New NHS gambling addiction clinic opens in Manchester
New base will see and treat more people across North West England
The NHS Northern Gambling Service has opened a new clinic in Manchester which will reach out to more of the thousands of people across the north of England suffering with gambling addiction.
The service’s new base in Salford Quays will serve the North West of England, northern midlands and North Wales and will be home to a Consultant Psychologist, Consultant Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Mental Health Nurse. They will work alongside the teams in Leeds and Sunderland to provide care for those with severe addictions, as well as supporting people with additional and complex mental health conditions, and those who may present with more risk – such as a risk of suicide.
In England* around 224,000 adults (0.4% of the population) are classified as higher risk problem gamblers, with around two million (3.6%) classified as being “at risk” from developing a serious gambling problem. However, fewer than three per cent of those affected currently receive treatment or support.
The NHS Northern Gambling Service, run by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT), first opened in September 2019. The new North West of England clinic is part of commitments made in the NHS Long Term Plan to tackle gambling addiction. In June 2019, NHS England announced it would be commissioning a network of new gambling addiction services for adults and children across the country (although the NHS Northern Gambling Service will only be treating adults initially).
People can get support through psychological therapies, addiction treatment programmes, mental health treatment, family therapy and peer support from those whose lives have already been adversely affected by gambling. The Service can also offer dedicated support to family members and carers of those affected by problem gambling.
Consultant Psychologist Matthew Gaskell is the Clinical Lead for the new NHS Northern Gambling Service. He said: “I’m delighted to be opening our new clinic in Manchester. This will help make our service more accessible to people in the North West of England where we know there are thousands who need our support.
“Gambling addiction is a new public health crisis. It’s causing serious harm to thousands of people across the UK. This includes mental health problems, serious debt, breakdown of relationships, loss of employment, crime, homelessness and, tragically, sometimes suicide.
“Through my work in mental health and addictions treatment over the years I’ve seen the harms that problem gambling can cause people. However the chances of recovery from addictions like problem gambling can be very good with proper treatment. I often see people make good sustained recoveries when they seek help.
“The Northern Gambling Service works alongside many other agencies and charities to support people. We believe ‘any door is the right door’ and people can either refer themselves for help, or come to us via any of these agencies and charities. We also support the family, friends and carers of those who might be affected by problem gambling.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “When treated responsibly, gambling can be an enjoyable activity. But for some it can develop into an addiction leading to debt, serious mental health problems and in some tragic cases, suicide. It is so important we offer the right treatment to those affected by gambling. I am incredibly proud to see this new clinic open which will protect the most vulnerable and ensure they get the support they need.”
Claire Murdoch, National NHS Director for Mental Health said: “The NHS is rolling out new specialist clinics across the country, as part of our NHS Long Term Plan for improved patient care, and fighting back against the misery caused by gambling addiction. But the tactics used by some firms remain shameful and as the NHS expands services to see more patients, it does so in the face of an industry that spends huge amounts on aggressive marketing and appears hell-bent on luring more vulnerable punters in at the expense of good health.”
James’ gambling addiction story
The launch of the new service is being supported by recovering gambling addict and campaigner James Grimes. Born in 1990, James grew up in Norfolk supporting Peterborough United and got hooked on gambling aged 16. In 12 years of addiction he’d lost around £100,000, admitting that he couldn’t watch football without betting.
By 2019 James was nearly two years gamble free and had moved to Manchester. That same year he founded the Big Step charity project, which walks and talks football clubs through the dangers of gambling to protect the next generation of fans.
James’ addiction caused him to lose two jobs, relationships, trust within his family and career prospects, as well as seeing him rack up 20 different pay-day loans. In the summer of 2019 he walked 125 miles between eight different football stadiums and raised nearly £4,000 as part of The Big Step.
Watch James’ story
Kelly’s gambling addiction story
Kelly Field from St Helen’s in Merseyside began to gamble online when she was off work for a while. Within six months she got £10,000 in debt and was borrowing more and more.
“I kept everything a secret for a year, I put on a smile and I hid the credit card bills, but the pressure of debt and lies built up. Eventually I felt so low I wanted to take my own life – I couldn’t see any other way out.”
Thankfully, Kelly got help from a local charity and went on to share her story with the makers of ITV’s 2019 drama Cleaning Up. The series features Sheridan Smith playing an office cleaner who covers her gambling debts by turning to crime. Kelly told the producers how she used online gambling as “escapism” when she was off work.
Watch Kelly’s story
Danny’s gambling addiction story
30-year-old Danny Cheetham from Stockport has experienced the iron grip of gambling addiction. He got hooked from 18 years old and reckons he lost around £50,000 over eight years and accumulated as much in debts.
However, the real turning point came when his mum lay terminally ill in hospital, but Danny, so fixated on gambling, was betting on football through a live feed on his phone.
Danny now works in IT and has now been bet free for over two years. He spoke at the launch of the NHS Northern Gambling Service’s new clinic in Manchester.
How to seek help from the NHS Northern Gambling Service
The NHS Northern Gambling Service works closely with a range of professionals and organisations including GPs, local councils, NHS trusts, national and local charities, Citizens’ Advice, the criminal justice system, debt agencies, substance misuse services and homeless agencies.
One of our core values is that ‘any door is the right door’ which means people can be referred in via a number of routes no matter where they are or who they are receiving help from. People can refer themselves directly. The service also offers help to family, friends and carers of those affected.
A range of other options for people seeking help for gambling addiction can be found on the national NHS website at www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/gambling-addiction.
* Problem gambling in England – Health Survey for England 2018 Adult’s health-related behaviours report
The Health Survey for England published in December 2019 estimates that:
- Around 265,000 adults in England (0.4% of the population) are classified as higher risk problem gamblers
- Around 2.4 million adults in England (3.6%) are classified as lower or moderate problem / at-risk gamblers.