Gambling with Lives sets out new care and treatment pathway

| By Robert Fletcher
British charity Gambling with Lives has proposed a new treatment pathway for those experiencing gambling-related harm.

The scheme would bring together people harmed by gambling and health experts, with the aim of providing a treatment and support system for people with gambling disorders and families affected by gambling.

Gambling with Lives said the service would work in collaboration with the National Health Service (NHS) in Great Britain and complement existing treatment and support systems.

The charity has applied for regulatory settlement funding from the Gambling Commission to support the project, with the idea of running a pilot of the scheme with partners in Greater Manchester

Insights from this process would be used to raise the standard of the system of gambling treatment and care nationally, including offering a model for making treatment and care for gambling harms a part of NHS integrated care systems.

“It is essential that people harmed by gambling are at the forefront of designing care and treatment for gambling disorder,” Gambling with Lives co-founder Liz Ritchie said. “We know how few people access treatment, how few feel helped, and this design for a care and treatment pathway aims to redress this.”

In terms of how the new scheme was developed, Gambling with Lives said it staged a series of focus groups with people who had live experience of gambling problems, as well as workshops with input from gambling operators, other support services, clinicians and expert by experience groups to help shape how the system would run.

Setting out the core aims of the pathway in the proposal, the charity said that overarching aim is to allow more people to access help and treatment, adding that early identification of problem gambling will be key.

The charity is also keen to ensure people can easily access help and achieve what they want from this support, as well as to prevent suicides linked to gambling problems.

Gambling with Lives said that the scheme would be embedded within existing health, care and public service provision, with frontline professionals to be made aware of the pathway so as they can refer people to the scheme if necessary.

Gambling with Lives also set out how the programme would run, including the initial stage of promoting it and running education programmes to make people aware of it, as well as running professional outreach and screening projects to identify people suitable for the scheme.

The programme would then identify the next source of action, including information and education on problem gambling, early help and advice, motivational interviews, peer support and therapeutic treatment. This would also be the case for those contacting the programme on behalf of others, with advice and support to be made available.

After treatment takes place, the programme would follow up with all participants to see their progress and evaluate whether further support and treatment is required.

Gambling with Lives said that there would be a number of end goals to the project, including people stopping gambling altogether, improving their mental health, feeling they had been adequately support, having a sense of greater empowerment and understanding the impact of their gambling habits on their own lives and other around them.

Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones, founder and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, welcomed the proposal, saying integration within the wider NHS network would help those suffering with gambling-related harm.

“It is essential that evidence-based services are led by the NHS to ensure quality clinical standards,” Bowden-Jones said. “I welcome this project and the work of people harmed by gambling in helping us to ensure that services are integrated with existing NHS pathways and really meet the needs of our population.”

Lord Foster of Bath, chair of peers for Gambling Reform, added:  “As parliamentarians work on improving gambling legislation to tackle gambling harm, it’s great to see people who have been harmed by gambling at the forefront of the push to enable more access to evidence-based treatment. 

“Our recommendation for the introduction of a smart levy should help fund such treatment, ensure it’s free of industry influence and led by the NHS.  We welcome the creative work of Gambling with Lives in this area which is rooted in the needs of families.”

The new proposal comes after Gambling with Lives earlier this month announced the launch of the Big Step campaign, which is calling for an end to all gambling promotion in football.

Backed by English League Two team Forest Green Rovers, the campaign aims to see the end of all gambling sponsorship and advertising in football, where currently there are thought to be 55 different gambling sponsorship or partnership deals with 44 football clubs in the top two divisions in England.

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