The NHS is set to open its first ever gambling addiction clinic located outside London next year as part of plans to tackle the mental health issue.
According to reports, the new clinic will be based in Leeds and will open in April 2019 while operating via a partnership between Leeds and Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the GamCare Network.
The clinic will provide treatment for people from the North of England as the NHS and third sector organisations provide the service with help from the local council.
Leading charity GambleAware is reportedly funding the new clinic with an annual £1.2 million grant. The charity already operates a London clinic provided by Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
Marc Etches, the Chief Executive of GambleAware, said in a statement: “Our aim is to stop people getting into problems with their gambling and to ensure those that do develop problems receive fast and effective treatment and support.
“GamCare and the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are adopting an integrated approach, from training and support of Primary Care and City Council Services, through to identification and access to treatment, promoting a seamless care pathway and shared responsibility for case management.”
Etches are hinted that the charity is considering opening other clinics throughout the country but only if its “limited charitable resources allow” it to do so.
Matt Gaskell, a consultant psychologist for Addiction Services at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is expected to serve as the Clinical Lead for the new NHS Northern Gambling Clinic.
Gaskell said: “I have been campaigning for many years to set up a clinical service to help those affected by serious gambling disorder.
“Gambling addiction has a devastating effect on the lives of individuals and the people around them, including their loved ones. Those diagnosed with gambling disorder often need help with a range of difficulties, including mental health problems, and it can lead to serious debt and family breakdown, people losing their jobs, people turning to crime in desperation for funds, and even suicide.”
The news comes after the NHS released data revealing that a 50% rise in the number of problem gamblers who were hospitalised for their condition in the NHS over the last year.
The report revealed that over 100 people were admitted due to their “pathological” gambling which was so severe they needed hospital treatment, a significant increase from the number of people who had been treated in 2000 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) first recognised gambling disorder as a medical condition.