Health & Lifestyle

NHS is rapidly expanding the opening of gambling addiction centres across the country this summer

NHS is rapidly expanding the opening of gambling addiction centres across the country this summer after demand hits a record high

  • Figures published today show 1,400 patients were referred for help last year
  • The NHS plans to treat up to 3,000 patients a year across total of 15 clinics

Gambling addiction centres will open across the country this summer as demand hits a record high.

The NHS is rapidly expanding its support services for thousands seriously addicted to gambling.

Figures published today show 1,400 patients were referred for help last year. This is up by more than a third on the previous 12 months and a rise of nearly 80 per cent compared to two years ago.

The seven new clinics will be in Milton Keynes, Thurrock in Essex, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool and Sheffield. 

They will join centres in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Telford, Shropshire. Another London clinic treats gambling and gaming addiction in children and young people.

Gambling addiction centres will open across the country this summer as demand hits a record high. (file image)

Gambling Commission figures show about 138,000 people could be problem gamblers, with 1.3 million more classed as moderate or low-risk punters. The NHS plans to treat up to 3,000 patients a year across the 15 clinics.

Its chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: ‘This expansion shows the NHS is again adapting to new healthcare needs.

‘In 1948, when the NHS was founded, you had to go to a bookies to place a bet. 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.’

The latest clinics will treat people with serious addiction issues through cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, support groups and aftercare. NHS teams including psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses and peer support workers also offer support to family members.

NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch added: ‘I hope further action is taken to protect the young from being bombarded by gambling ads while watching sport.’

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard (pictured) said the 'expansion shows the NHS is again adapting to new healthcare needs'

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard (pictured) said the ‘expansion shows the NHS is again adapting to new healthcare needs’

Last week, Leicester coroner Ivan Cartwright criticised bookie Betfair for failing to intervene before problem-gambler Luke Ashton, 40, killed himself after betting more than 100 times a day.

His widow, Annie, said Mr Cartwright’s criticism vindicated her belief that ‘gambling destroys families and causes suicides’.

Ian Brown, chief executive of Flutter, Betfair’s parent company, said: ‘We wish to reiterate our sincere condolences to Ms Ashton and her family. We are truly sorry for their loss.’

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