The NHS are set to open two new clinics in England to help tackle the growing problem and health side effects of gambling addictions.
This comes after Claire Murdoch, Chief of NHS mental health wrote a letter to GambleAware, confirming that the NHS will no longer be accepting funding from the organisation and will fully fund all treatment themselves from April, bringing it in line with other NHS services.
In the second half of last year, 668 people were referred to NHS gambling clinics with severe gambling addiction issues, a 16.2 percent increase since the same period in 2020.
The two new clinics will be situated in Southampton and Stoke-On-Trent and are due to open this May.
The decision to pull back from the external funding comes after patient and clinician feedback suggesting there was a ‘conflict of interest’ from the gambling industry.
The industry generates over £14 billion each year in the UK and forms the root of gambling problem for around 4.4 percent of adults in the North West and 4.9 percent in the North East.
NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said: “Gambling addiction is a cruel mental health condition that can devastate people’s lives – our pilot clinics are already having a lasting impact in helping people to take back vital control of their lives.
“The opening of two new gambling clinics in May, as a part of our £2.3 billion investment into mental health services, will mean we can help even more people with the most serious gambling problems.
“It is also absolutely right that the NHS now funds these clinics independently, recognising the harmful effects this addiction can have on the nation’s mental health, and that predatory tactics from gambling companies are part of the problem, not the solution”.
Towards the end of this year the NHS will launch a new Gambling Harm Network and Clinical Reference Group, bringing experts together to share best practices on helping those suffering with a gambling addiction.
Actions needed to improve the problem were outlined to gambling companies in January 2020 by Claire Murdoch. These actions included placing a restriction on credit cards, introduced when the Gambling Commission outlawed the practice.