The NHS has announced its decision to stop accepting funds from GambleAware and the wider gambling industry to treat those suffering from gambling addiction.
In an open letter to charity GambleAware, NHS England National Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch confirmed that the NHS would fund its own gambling services from April 1st, citing some patients’ unease at using treatment services paid for by the gambling industry.
According to the BBC, the gambling industry paid £16 million to GambleAware between April and December last year to help fund treatment services. Of the £16 million, a total of £1.2 million was awarded in grants to NHS-operated gambling clinics. The money was also used to fund the National Gambling Helpline.
The announcement comes as the NHS faces record demand for gambling support and days after the health service announced on Twitter the opening of two brand new gambling clinics in England this year.
Two new gambling clinics will open in England this year, as the NHS faces record demand for specialist support for gambling addiction.
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) February 19, 2022
She said in the letter: “We are very grateful to GambleAware for the funding that you have provided over the last three years, which has allowed us to roll out treatment services faster than would have otherwise been possible.
“However, as these become part of normal recurrent spending commitment and the number of clinics is expanded, we want to move the funding into general NHS funding, as is standard for other similar services.”
She continued: “Our decision has been heavily influenced by patients who have previously expressed concern about using services paid for directly by [the] industry. Additionally, our clinicians feel there are conflicts of interest in their clinics being part-funded by resources from the gambling industry.”
Murdoch then confirmed that although funding from the gambling industry has allowed the NHS to roll out its services fast, they still desire to pay for their services via general funding. She said in the letter: “The NHS cannot address the harms caused by gambling alone, nor is it the NHS’s job to tackle this on its own.
“We are therefore committed to maintaining a constructive operational relationship with GambleAware as this change is implemented and continuing to work together on developing a treatment system that is fit for purpose.”
The news comes as the UK government continues its review of the Gambling Act 2005 and is expected to announce a slew of changes for the gambling industry in May this year after a short delay.