NHS cuts GambleAware ties over industry concerns

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The NHS has announced its split from GambleAware and will no longer accept grants from the gambling sector.

As confirmed by Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Mental Health Director, the service will no longer use support from GambleAware to help co-fund its UK-wide problem gambling clinics and research, education and treatment programmes.

In an open letter, Murdoch wrote: “We are very grateful to GambleAware for the funding that you have provided over the last three years, which has allowed us to roll out treatment services faster than would have otherwise been possible.

“However, as these become part of normal recurrent spending commitment and the number of clinics is expanded, we want to move the funding into general NHS funding, as is standard for other similar services. 

“Our decision has been heavily influenced by patients who have previously expressed concern about using services paid for directly by industry. Additionally, our clinicians feel there are conflicts of interest in their clinics being part-funded by resources from the gambling industry.”

However, the NHS will maintain a “constructive operational relationship” with the charity as it noted that “the NHS cannot address the harms caused by gambling alone, nor is it the NHS’s job to tackle this on its own”.

“Gambling treatment services do not prevent people being harmed in the first place and we would like to see the industry take firm action so that people do not need to seek help from the NHS,” the open letter ends. 

“We hope that you will continue to join us in calling for the gambling industry to be more heavily regulated and taxed to generate public funding to address gambling harms.”

Prior to the decision, GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond had declared that all concerns on the independence RET funding would be immediately resolved by a fixed safer gambling levy being imposed on licensed operators.