Extra funding for the treatment of problem gambling in England is set to be included in the government’s new 10-year strategy for health spending.
The NHS Long Term Plan, to be published this afternoon, will put a focus on investment in mental health services, which will rise to at least £2.3bn a year by 2023/24. As part of this investment, additional funding and resources will be allocated to create more dedicated services for the treatment of problem gambling.
The plan will see around two million more people who suffer anxiety, depression or other mental health issues receive help over the next decade, with 24-hour access to crisis care.
“There will be a new guarantee that investment in primary, community and mental health care will grow faster than the growing overall NHS budget,” a Department of Health spokesperson said.
“This will fund a £4.5bn new service model for the 21st century across England, where health bodies come together to provide better, joined up care in partnership with local government.”
The Daily Mirror newspaper reported over the weekend that Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered Health Secretary Matt Hancock to establish more NHS treatment centres dedicated to the treatment of gambling addiction. Currently there is just one centre of this kind, based in Fulham, west London.
A second is being established by problem gambling funding body GambleAware, which commissioned a new NHS treatment centre worth in November 2018. The Leeds-based NHS Northern Gambling Clinic will open in April 2019, and operate through a partnership between Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and problem gambling charity GamCare.
GamCare is also in the process of developing a problem gambling support team for the local area to help identify, screen, and support those affected by problem gambling.
The NHS Long Term Plan pledge to bring mental and physical care together was welcomed by campaigners.
“We are really pleased to see that mental health is such a key focus in the NHS long term plan and we welcome the £2.3bn set aside for mental health services,” said Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind.
“This is the kind of sustained investment we need to see to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health and, if delivered, this plan will make a difference to the lives of thousands of people with mental health problems.”