Problem gambling treatment within the British National Health Service

Abstract

According to the latest British Gambling Prevalence Survey, there are approximately 300,000 adult problem gamblers in Great Britain. In January 2007, the British Medical Association published a report recommending that those experiencing gambling problems should receive treatment via the National Health Service (NHS). This study examines the extent to which this recommendation has been taken up by NHS Trusts. In August 2009, a total of 327 letters were sent to all Primary Care Trusts, Foundation Trusts and Mental Health Trusts in the UK requesting information about problem gambling service provision and past year treatment of gambling problems within their Trust under the Freedom of Information Act. Results showed that 97% of the Trusts did not provide any service (specialist or otherwise) for treating those with gambling problems (i.e., only nine Trusts provided evidence of how they deal with problem gambling). Only one Trust offered dedicated specialist help for problem gambling. There was some evidence that problem gamblers may get treatment via the NHS if that person has other co-morbid disorders as the primary referral problem. Current provision for problem gamblers in Great Britain is delivered overwhelmingly by the third sector. There is still a long way to go if the aim is to provide localised, problem specific treatment to problem gamblers within the NHS system.

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