The number of people admitted to hospital in England for reasons related to gambling has declined year-on-year to 321 but remains above the figures six years ago, NHS figures have shown.
In total, 321 people were admitted to hospital in the year ending 31 March, 2019, down 4.2% from 335 in 2017-18. However, while the figure was lower than the prior year, the NHS noted that it was still more than double the total from 2013-14, when only 150 people were admitted.
Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director for the NHS pointed to this longer-term trend and accused gambling companies of putting their customers’ health at risk.
“Our NHS is fighting back against a rising tide of gambling related ill health as more people than ever before are being egged-on by shameless gambling firms not just to take a chance with their money, but with their health too,” Murdoch said.
“While the NHS will always be there for people – adapting, improving and increasing different and new treatments as our patients need them as part of our Long Term Plan – the gambling industry, which takes upward of £14bn a year from punters, must take the blame for this increase and ensure a fair amount of its profits help its customers who may suffer from addiction.”
46 people under the age of 25 attended a hospital as a result of their addiction last year, with one person as young as 15 receiving treatment, an increase from last year when 37 people under 25 received treatment.
Cases of pathological gambling, meanwhile, defined as a person turning crime to fund their gambling addiction, increased by more than 30% year-on-year to 171.
In September 2019, the NHS opened its first gambling addiction treatment centre located outside of London, in Leeds.
In December, the NHS's Health Survey for England study found that just over half of over-16s in England gambled in 2018, with 0.4% identified as problem gamblers.