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NHS Opens Support Centers to Tackle Rising Addiction Cases

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NHS England has announced that it would be opening more gambling addiction centers across the country to meet the current staggering demand for its gambling treatment services.

According to figures published on Sunday, over 1,389 patients were referred for help last year, 1,013 in 2021, and 775 two years ago. Due to the gradual increase in the number of gambling addiction patients in the country, NHS England is expanding its services and locations to cater to them.

The NHS will open seven new centers in Milton Keynes, Thurrock in Essex, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, and Sheffield. These will be in addition to its eight existing health clinics in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Telford, Shropshire. The health service plans to treat up to 3,000 patients annually across the 15 clinics.

Battle with Gambling Addiction

The new NHS clinics will provide comprehensive treatment for severe gambling addiction using cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, support groups, and post-treatment care. Like the existing centers, the facilities will be staffed with psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, and peer support workers who will extend assistance to patients and their family members, partners, and caregivers.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS England boss, has linked the rise in problem gambling to modern mobile betting and the high rate of gambling advertising targeted at the young and old.

In 1948, when the NHS was founded, you had to go to a bookies to place a bet. Now people can gamble on their phone at the touch of a button and everyone, young and old, is bombarded with adverts encouraging them to take part. Record numbers of people are coming to the NHS for help to treat their gambling addiction, a cruel disease which has the power to destroy people’s lives, with referrals up by more than a third compared to last year.

Amanda PritchardNHS Chief Executive

Tragic Case of Luke Ashton

The announcement comes days after Leicester coroner Ivan Cartwright criticized Betfair for indirectly contributing to the suicide of compulsive gambler Luke Ashton.

Ashton had been betting more than 100 times a day and had lost thousands of pounds gambling on Betfair’s exchange before finally killing himself on 22 April 2021.

According to his widow, Annie, her husband’s demise and Mr. Cartwright’s criticism of the betting platform supported her belief that ‘gambling destroys families and causes suicides.’

Recent data published by the Gambling Commission revealed that around 138,000 people are problem gamblers in the UK, and about 1.3 million actively engage in moderate or low-risk gambling.

Last week, the Derbyshire Healthcare (NHS) Foundation Trust set up a mental health and support service for problem gamblers across the East Midlands.

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