Concern over gambling ads bombardment as addiction referrals hit record highs
Written by First Choice Radio on 2 July 2023
Seven more specialist gambling clinics are being launched to support people who are struggling
Health officials have raised concerns over children and adults being “bombarded” with gambling adverts after a record number of people have sought help for gambling addiction in England.
NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard also sounded the alarm over “touch of a button” bets as she announced that the NHS is ramping up support for people with gambling problems.
New specialist clinics are to be opened as a result of soaring demand for care, she said.
The NHS in England has seen a steep rise in demand for support for “gambling-related harms”, a spokeswoman for the service said.
A record 1,389 patients were referred for help last year, compared 1,013 last year and 775 two years ago.
As a result, the NHS is launching seven more specialist gambling clinics to support people who are struggling.
The announcement comes just days after a coroner ruled that a gambling disorder contributed to the death of a father-of-two.
Luke Ashton had lost thousands of pounds gambling on Betfair’s exchange before he died by suicide at the age of 40 on April 22 2021, and had previously racked up debts of £18,000.
At the conclusion of a three-day inquest into his death at Leicester Coroner’s Court on Thursday, area coroner Ivan Cartwright said the betting company could have done more to help him before he took his own life.
The new NHS clinics were to be set up in Milton Keynes, Thurrock, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, and Sheffield.
This is on top of clinics already running in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Telford as well as a national clinic, which treats both gambling and gaming addiction in children and young people, based in London.
The NHS plans to treat up to 3,000 patients a year across the 15 clinics.
Patients with serious addiction will be helped though cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, support groups and aftercare.
Psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses and peer support workers will staff the clinics, offering support to patients as well as their family members, partners, and carers.
“Ahead of the NHS’s 75th birthday on Wednesday, this expansion shows the NHS once again adapting to the new healthcare needs that have emerged over the last 75 years,” Ms Pritchard said.
“In 1948 when the NHS was founded, you had to go to a bookies to place a bet, but now people can gamble on their phone at the touch of a button and everyone, young and old, is bombarded with adverts encouraging them to take part.
“Record numbers of people are coming to the NHS for help to treat their gambling addiction, a cruel disease which has the power to destroy people’s lives, with referrals up by more than a third compared to last year.
“As it has done since 1948, the NHS is responding at speed and rolling out seven new gambling harms clinics across England, so that even more people can be supported by the NHS in their time of need.”
One patient who received help from the Northern Gambling Harms Service, said: “Gambling addiction took over my life to the extent I was suicidal and relationships with my family and friends had broken down.
“Engaging with NHS services has helped me get control of my life back and I’m rebuilding trust with my family and friends, once again having happy and healthy relationships with people close to me.”
Commenting on the new clinics, Public Health Minister Neil O’ Brien said: “The stark rise in the number of people seeking NHS treatment for gambling-related harms shows the devastating impact it can have on people’s lives and health.
“These new clinics will bring vital support to more parts of the country, so thousands more people can get the help they need.
“We have taken firm action to tackle gambling-related harms through our White Paper, which includes our commitment to introduce a statutory levy so gambling companies pay their fair share towards the costs of treatment services.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub