NHS North West Gambling Service launches

The NHS North West Gambling Service (NWGS), which will include clinics at Preston, Liverpool, and Manchester, officially launched this week.

The service will cover a large catchment area, from Blackpool to Carlisle, and is an important part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to have 15 gambling clinics operational across England.

In December 2023, analysis of new data revealed that only 1 in 200 people suffering gambling harm are accessing specialist treatment. The data also shows there could be over 200,000 people living in the north-west that “may benefit from some type of treatment or support for harmful gambling”.

Up to 1.44 million adults are directly harmed by gambling in the UK and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) estimates there are up to 496 gambling-related suicides each year in England alone.

James Grimes, Gambling with Lives’ prevention lead, spoke at the launch event.

“I know what great work the team at the NHS Northern Gambling service do and I’m a huge advocate,” he said.

“Treatment can be the key to unlock a life free of gambling – there is a better life waiting for you that starts at the NHS North West Gambling Service.”

James Grimes at the launch of the NHS North West Gambling Service.

The first specialist NHS gambling clinic opened in London in 2008, shortly after the 2005 Gambling Act liberalised the UK’s gambling laws.

In 2020, the government announced a review of the 2005 Act, which culminated last year with the publication of a white paper laying out reform proposals, including a statutory levy on gambling operators’ profits, which will go toward funding independent research, education, and treatment.  

“We know that treatment is vital but it’s just part of it,” James said. “Early intervention and the identification and assessment of gambling harms is really important because people often present way too late when it’s at a crisis point or worse.”  

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