The NHS’s Northern Gambling Service has opened a new clinic in Sunderland as it continues to expand its treatment services across northern England.
The clinic will include a consultant psychologist, a consultant psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist and a senior mental health nurse.
“I’m delighted to be opening our new base in Sunderland,” consultant psychologist Matthew Gaskell, the clinical lead for the clinic, said. “This will help make our service more accessible to people in the North East where we know there are thousands of people 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 sometimes suicide.
Gaskell said that treatment such as that provided at the clinic has a proven record of helping gambling addicts towards recovery.
“Through my work in mental health and addictions treatment over the years I’ve seen the harms that problem gambling can inflict on 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.”
The NHS said that treatment available at the facility includes, psychological therapies, addiction treatment programmes, mental health treatment, family therapy and peer support.
The opening of the Sunderland facility follows a clinic in Leeds, the first NHS gambling addiction clinic outside of London, in September. The NHS said that a facility based in Manchester to serve the North West, was to follow.
Claire Murdoch, NHS national director for mental health, said the new clinics are part of a co-ordinated plan to tackle gambling addiction.
“The NHS is constantly rising to meet new health challenges,” Murdoch said. “We are fighting back against the misery of mental ill health caused by gambling addiction by rolling out new specialist clinics across the country, as part of our long term plan.”
“While the NHS will always be there for people – adapting, improving and increasing different and new treatments as our patients need them. The gambling industry, which rakes in billions of pounds from punters and spends vast amounts on aggressive marketing to reel ever more people in, really has to shoulder the blame and ensure a fair amount of its profits help those in need.”
In December 2019, the NHS revealed figures that showed the 321 people were admitted to hospital in England for reasons related to gambling in the 2018-19 fiscal year, less than 2017-18 but more than double the total in 2014-15.