New NHS gambling clinic opens in Leeds where more than 10,000 people are addicted
THE first NHS gambling clinic and support services, outside of London, opens in Leeds today (Wednesday 18 September, 2019) where more than 10,000 people are addicted.
One life a day is lost in the UK to problem gambling, but it is hoped new plans - made possible from the £34 billion of Government backing given to the NHS for its Long Term Plan - will help to ease the gambling crisis.
In partnership with charity GamCare, the new support service for people with gambling problems is launching, operating at a number of different venues across the city.
The Leeds Community Gambling Service is the first service of its kind and involves an ambitious collaboration between gambling support charity GamCare, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) and Leeds City Council.
It is being funded by national charity GambleAware and will form part of the wider NHS Northern Gambling Service funded by NHS England.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said: “Problem gambling is an addiction which ruins lives for thousands of people and their families.
“No one’s access to support should depend on where they live, so we are expanding treatment outside of London to help addicts get the support they need to turn their lives around.
Many more people are at risk from developing an addiction to gambling, an industry which generates more than 7 billion pounds a year in the UK and has boomed in recent years with online options available.
Leeds footballer Lewis Keogh lost his life to a tragic gambling related death in 2013.
Now, his club Headingley AFC uses every opportunity possible, to raise awareness and help others who might be suffering from the addiction - which claims one life a day in Britain.
Lewis died after keeping his habit a secret from everyone who knew him, until he suddenly and shockingly took his own life at the age of 34.
Heartbreakingly, his suicide note included the words ‘addiction is cruel’.
Callum Butcher, chairman of Headingley AFC, said: “We are determined to continue to raise awareness of the problems associated with gambling, not just in Leeds but across the UK.
"Lewis encapsulated the club's ethos perfectly and the devastation felt when he took his own life, shocked our club to the core.”
The NHS Northern Gambling Service will provide care for those with severe addictions and provide treatment and support for people with additional and complex mental health conditions, impaired social functioning, and those who may be at risk of suicide.
Services will also support family and friends.
Health secretary Mr Hancock added: “As part of our NHS Long Term Plan, we will continue to roll out these specialist services across the country and undo the damage caused by gambling and protect our most vulnerable. This is all possible thanks to this Government’s historic commitment of £33.9bn extra taxpayers’ money - the largest and longest cash settlement in the history of the NHS.”
Leeds residents will benefit from additional prevention, education and treatment for gambling harm provided by GamCare.
Training will also benefit health staff in identifying people in need of help and support.
Matt Gaskell, consultant psychologist & clinical lead for addictions, Leeds and York Partnership Foundation NHS Trusts, said it was a welcomed move: “Over the years I’ve seen the harm that problem gambling can inflict on people. It is vital that we work together to provide a range of accessible and effective services to reduce these harms.
“Our services in Leeds and across the North of England will provide specialist addiction support and treatment to people affected by gambling addiction or disorder, as well as those with more complex mental health problems such as depression and suicidal feelings.”
Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, said: “A wide range of needs arise from gambling-related harms, which can impact on mental health and wellbeing.
“For those affected by disordered gambling, our treatment services can offer valuable support and we’d encourage people to get in touch early and not to let problems get to crisis point.”
Leeds City Council chiefs also welcomed the news. Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council deputy leader and executive member for communities, added: “Around 10,000 people in Leeds are affected by problem gambling, which can damage people’s lives, significantly affect their health and have a huge impact on families, loved ones, and communities.
“Leeds prides itself on being a compassionate city. We want to support vulnerable people and improve the health of the poorest the fastest. These innovative support services are an important step forward in providing the education, training and support which is so desperately needed.”
Leeds was selected as a suitable central hub location for gambling support services across the North of England as it will complement the existing GambleAware funded NHS National Gambling Treatment Service in London.
There is an estimated 430,000 gambling addicts in the UK today, with a further 2 million at risk.
NHS statistics show that only around five percent of people seek help and only one percent get treatment for their gambling problem. If the problem is left to develop, debts can spiral out of control and people can become withdrawn and depressed, which can affect their professional lives and relationships with other people.
Gambling is very addictive; the adrenaline rush associated with the possibility of pulling off a big win is often described by gamblers as an ‘unbeatable feeling’.
Most people can control the desire to gamble and if they start losing, they will stop. However, for some, the possibility of a win is extremely enticing and they will carry on going until they win, regardless of how much money they lose along the way.
Help and support:
To find help and support across Leeds now, visit www.gamcare.org.uk/leeds, or call the National Gambling HelpLine on Freephone 0808 80 20 133 or see www.gamcare.org.uk
In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org