Swansea University Calls for Urgent NHS Gambling Harms Services in Wales

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In a recent article published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, academics from Swansea University have made a compelling case for the urgent establishment of NHS gambling harms services in Wales.

Their call to action underscores the pressing need for dedicated treatment services to address the adverse effects of gambling in the region, emphasizing that the absence of such services is unacceptable and must be addressed promptly by the Welsh Government.

Swansea University's Call for Specialized Treatment in Wales

The initiative was led by a team from Swansea University's School of Psychology in collaboration with members of the Gambling Research, Education, and Treatment (GREAT) Network Wales. Their research reveals that people in Wales are at a similar risk of experiencing problem gambling as individuals anywhere else in the UK.

One of the most striking findings in their article is the year-on-year increase in referrals to NHS gambling harms service clinics in England, which reached 1,400 in 2022. To meet this growing demand, there are plans to establish 15 clinics in England. In stark contrast, there are currently no such clinics in operation in Wales and Scotland.

The recognition of gambling-related harms as a public health concern in Wales has been long-standing. Public Health Wales commissioned a health needs assessment (HNA) in response to calls for greater support for individuals facing gambling-related harms. The HNA identified various challenges related to the awareness, accessibility, and acceptability of existing gambling treatment and support services.

Furthermore, both the UK Government's Gambling White Paper and the Welsh Government's Task and Finish Group on Gambling-Related Harms have advocated for the development of specialized treatment services in Wales. These recommendations highlight the importance of creating clear referral pathways and delivering specialized gambling treatment services.

Despite these calls for action and the recognition of the problem, specialized gambling help and support services have yet to materialize in Wales.

Professor Simon Dymond of Swansea University and Director of GREAT Network Wales stressed the urgency of the situation:

The time is long overdue for Wales to be on a par with the support and treatment services available for those experiencing gambling harms in England." He also noted that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that individuals with high gambling severity seek treatment and support from NHS-commissioned specialist gambling treatment services, an option currently unavailable to the people of Wales

Professor Simon DymondDirector of GREAT Network Wales

Urgent Plea for Immediate NHS Investment

While the proposed introduction of a statutory levy may provide a potential means of funding these essential services in the future, Professor Dymond and his colleagues argue that immediate NHS investment in gambling harms services for Wales is imperative. The need for action is clear, and the well-being of individuals facing gambling-related harms in Wales cannot wait.

In conclusion, the article from Swansea University academics highlights the critical need for dedicated NHS gambling harm services in Wales. The urgency of their call reflects the growing recognition of the harms associated with gambling and the pressing need to provide effective support and treatment to those affected. It is a plea for swift action to safeguard the well-being of individuals in Wales struggling with gambling-related issues.

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