NHS maximises NGSN coverage with Sheffield clinic

The NHS has reached an operating milestone in the support and development of the National Gambling Support Network (NGSN) by opening its fifteenth clinic in Sheffield.

The clinic opened this weekend, expanding dedicated NHS treatment support and recovery services for problem gambling in Yorkshire and the North of England.

Amid growing demand for services, the opening of the new clinic in Sheffield means that the NHS has now almost doubled the number of specialist clinics available within the space of a year in England.

 The Sheffield facility sees the NHS expand its network of problem gambling clinics to 15, operating across England with specialist treatment centres located in London, Milton Keynes, Thurrock, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, Preston, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Telford.

NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “The opening of the new NHS gambling clinic is a significant milestone and amid record demand for help, it is timely for patients who desperately need this vital treatment.

“The £1bn UK gambling industry, which operates 24/7, is becoming more addictive, and with mainstream sporting events driving increasing numbers to problem gambling, it’s now more important than ever that people have access to treatment that adapts to their healthcare needs.”

The programme to expand NHS England’s problem gambling clinics began in 2019 with the launch of the formerly titled “NHS Northern Gambling Service.”

Supported by a £1m donation from GamCare, the NHS opened a specialist clinic in Leeds, a facility needed to expand treatment support services in the North and a commitment to launch new treatment centres in Manchester and Sunderland.

The programme was revamped at a national level in 2019, due to the NHS securing £35bn in additional funding from the UK government. The Department of State for Health and Social Care backed the NHS plans to build a network of problem gambling clinics across England due to a shortfall in specialist treatment only available in Soho, London.

Providing an update for 2024, the NHS expects up to 3,000 people a year to be treated in the 15 clinics, and individuals can either self-enrol in a service or be referred through GP teams.

SBC News NHS: Sheffield clinic sees NGSN hit operating milestone
Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE

Of significance, the gambling clinics have deepened all resources to treat the complexities of problem gambling, offering specialist support from clinical psychologists, therapists, mental health practitioners, psychiatrists, and lived experience peers.

National Clinical Advisor on Gambling Harms, Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE, said: “Having founded the first ever NHS clinic to treat gambling disorders in 2008, I am grateful to NHS England for having taken on the expansion of treatment delivery to cover the whole of the country.

“We can now say there is no postcode lottery for treating gambling and all can benefit from evidence-based treatment to tackle this destructive illness which harms not only individuals but also their families.” 

At present, DCMS and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) continue to gather evidence and feedback on how to restructure the Levy on research, education and treatment (RET) of problem gambling harms. 

As recommended by the White Paper’s consultation the NHS will serve as the chief commissioner of the £100m RET Levy in support of organisation and projects in the field of problem gambling treatment, support and intervention.

The NHS maintains the continued development and expansion of the NGSN in how the RET Levy will be restructured and its support of third party organisations.

SBC News NHS: Sheffield clinic sees NGSN hit operating milestone
Andrea Leadsom: Public Health

Public Health Minister, Andrea Leadsom, said: “Gambling can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and the dangers of it can often go unseen until it’s too late. The opening of the new NHS gambling treatment clinics will ensure those experiencing harm are able to access the right treatment and support at the right time. 

“We are making huge progress by doubling the number of specialist clinics available in just one year in England – meeting our ambition in the Long-Term Plan and ensuring every region of the country can access these excellent services.”