First Free NHS Clinic For Gambling Addicts To Open
In the UK, the first Government-operated clinic offering free treatment for problem gamblers will open in September in what campaigners are calling a landmark development in the fight against addictions to traditional and online betting.
According to a piece in The Independent newspaper, an estimated 600,000 people have an unhealthy relationship with gambling in Great Britain with the few clinics now able to treat them run either by charities or private firms charging large sums of money.
The new Soho Problem Gambling Clinic in central London will be run by the National Health Service (NHS) and treat people referred from across the country. It is set to specialise in those with ‘co-morbidities’, patients whose gambling addiction is accompanied by acute mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
'It has caused a lot of excitement because it has made people think about whether we should have more of these types of clinics around the country,' said Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, an expert in treating gambling addictions set to head the Clinic.
The pilot scheme will be operated by the Central and North-West London NHS Foundation with funding predominantly from the gaming industry's Responsibility In Gambling Trust, an independent body set up five years ago to channel donations from casino operators and bookmakers back into addiction and awareness programmes.
Adrian Scarfe, Head of Clinical Services at Gamcare, a gambling addiction charity that is also involved in the new centre, told The Independent that the opening of an NHS service was a step in the right direction.
'Virtually all the work that is being done to combat gambling addiction is done entirely through the voluntary sector,' said Scarfe.
'Up until recently, the Department of Health and the NHS have not really noticed how much of a problem gambling addiction is.'