The NHS and gambling charity GambleAware have partnered to open a new problem gambling treatment centre in London.
Known as the Primary Care Gambling Service (PGCS), the centre is located in Kennington and was developed and funded by the Hurley Group, an NHS general practice partnership, and charity GambleAware. The PGCS is working with the National Gambling Treatment Service to offer help to adults suffering from gambling-related harm.
The new centre has also worked with GamCare to develop a care pathway to its services, and it will provide training to GPs located throughout the UK to help them identify gambling-related problems in patients. What’s more, the centre is working with the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop a Competency Framework for treating gambling problems in primary care and outline the skills and experience needed for practitioners in this field.
According to GamblingNews, the centre will primarily cover South London boroughs Southwark, Bexley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Bromley. However, there are plans to expand to other parts of London over the coming months, following on from the NHS’ prior pledge to launch more clinics for problem gamblers across the United Kingdom.
Dr Clare Gerada, who is leading the new centre with a team of mental health nurses, GPs, and therapists, said of the PGCS’ opening: “There is evidence that many people who have problems related to gambling are in contract with their GP, but don’t necessarily talk about their gambling.
“We will be exploring how to identify them, and how to help them get access to the treatment that is right for them. We know from other areas of work that people value the option of getting treatment in primary care settings.”
Speaking about their work in supporting the PGCS, Michael Mulholland, the Professional Development Officer Lead for the Royal College of General Practitioners, added: “We welcome the development of a competency framework for gambling treatment in primary care. This will help GPs and other primary care workers to develop their skills in treating people who are harmed through gambling.”
Anna van der Gaag, the Chair of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling, praised the launch of the new clinic and its work, saying: “This new initiative is very significant in expanding the treatment options for people who have experienced harm from gambling and for their families.
“We want treatment to be as accessible as possible and to remove the barriers that might exist for people seeking help. This is one of a number of initiatives that move us to a more joined-up approach, and I look forward to the lessons we can learn from this work about how we can scale up provision.”
The new Primary Care Gambling Service treatment service is one of the many new NHS-backed clinics to have opened in England. Last September, the NHS and GambleAware launched the Northern Gambling Service clinic in Leeds – the first gambling clinic to offer support to people suffering from gambling-related harm located outside of London.
Months before that, in June 2019, the NHS opened the first-ever gambling clinic for children aged between 13 and 25 after the UK Gambling Commission announced that a study had found that an estimated 50,000 children in the UK experience gambling-related problems.
The two above clinics, in addition to the two that opened in Manchester and Sunderland, are all part of the NHS’ expansion for gambling treatment services. When conceived, the NHS planned on opening around 14 new clinics across the UK to provide care and support to anyone suffering from gambling-related harm, no matter their location.
Anna Hemmings, the CEO at GamCare, one of the charities providing clinics with education on the prevention and treatment of gambling problems, said in a statement: “A wide range of needs arise from gambling-related harms, which can impact mental health and wellbeing. For those affected by disordered gambling, our treatment services can offer valuable support, and we’d encourage people to get in touch early and not let problems get to crisis point.”
GambleAware is one of the leading gambling charities operating in the UK which has been on a mission to provide problem gamblers with the help and support they need. The charity this week announced a string of new initiatives to raise awareness for the National Gambling Treatment Service and its own Safer Gambling Campaign.
The first campaign hopes to raise awareness of the risks regarding impulsive betting and will refer to the charity’s #BetRegret initiative. The campaign, which urges punters to think hard before making a bet, features former England goalkeeper David James and will be shown across digital platforms such as YouTube and Twitter.
GambleAware will also be promoting the National Gambling Treatment Service through a second campaign across radio, national press, and various digital platforms throughout July and August. According to GambleAware, the campaign, which is titled “Start to regain control’ and uses the tagline “When you’re there but not there”, will reportedly focus on gambling’s “consuming nature” and will work to encourage people with gambling problems to seek out treatment.
The “Start to regain control” campaign is targeted at men aged between 25 and 54 and will point punters to the National Gambling Treatment Service and help build awareness of the firm’s 24-hour National Gambling Helpline. It will also increase awareness of the support and services available to help regulate impulsive gambling and to treat problematic behaviour.
What’s more, the gambling charity recently called on banks and other financial firms to improve their gambling payment blocker services after a new study found that most people in the UK with current accounts are not offered the service or can switch them on and off as they please. As a result, GambleAware has issued a slew of recommendations which the charity hopes will help customers.
If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from gambling-related problems, you can check out our dedicated page on gambling charities and support services here for more information on who you can contact.