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ABSG Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms – Year Two

ABSG - Year two Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

3 - Mixed picture of national strategic co-ordination of implementation

ABSG’s first Progress Report proposed that efforts to establish structures and responsibilities for implementation of the National Strategy in the three nations would be critical to its success. Case Study 2 gives an outline of the work in Scotland, which is becoming increasingly integrated into the wider whole systems response to the Covid pandemic35. A similar picture is emerging in Wales, where the Welsh Government Group on gambling related harms has taken a place-based approach, taking into account the different needs of urban and rural communities in its work on raising awareness and providing treatment and support, using Welsh language materials and bringing together key partners at a symposium. Incorporating gambling harms into the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) model36 in Wales provides a framework for a coherent response and progress has been made through inter-agency work.

Case study 2: Strategic Implementation Group for Scotland

The Strategic Implementation Group for Scotland (SIGS) brings together the Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland (PHS), COSLA (local authorities in Scotland), the Police, the third sector and people with lived experience. Four meetings of the group have been held to date.

The SIGS’s aim is to adopt a whole system approach to take forward implementation of the National Strategy. The group is also building relationships and connections across policy, practice and people in sparking commitment for change movements around common goals.

One of the SIGS’s first actions was to hold a ‘Three Horizons’ session to develop an Action Map. The workshop approach helped add another layer of evidence to inform priority actions to reduce gambling harms over the short, medium and longer term.

The SIGS also held a Roundtable Discussion, organised by Scottish Public Health Network, (ScotPHN) to look at measurement and metrics. This brought together practitioners and academics in the field of gambling harms in the UK. The roundtable explored the potential for national and local metrics to inform whole system surveillance of gambling harms and to inform future interventions. Specific development areas around new measurement approaches and the development of public health surveillance for Scotland were proposed for SIGS action. These were accepted by the SIGS in January 2021. The Groups also agreed that a virtual feasibility exercise be undertaken, led by ScotPHN with Public Health Scotland and Glasgow Centre for Public Health participation, to explore what was possible now.

In England, progress has been slower. There is no equivalent Strategy Implementation Group. DHSC convened a meeting of some key stakeholders in January 2021. These stakeholders are proposing to use this as a forum to increase momentum for wider engagement by public sector bodies and to improve co-ordination across services. Whilst leadership by DHSC is welcome, local authorities in England are addressing the gap too, for example, by learning from the public health approaches developed in Greater Manchester37, the West Midlands38, and the Yorkshire and Humber Region39. These routes could lead to large-scale coverage in England, which would mean other regions in England could then follow. The Royal Society for Public Heath is also playing a convening role through its Gambling Heath Alliance40.

There are examples of new approaches to building the required infrastructure in England. The Primary Care Gambling Service41 shows promise in creating intermediate care services, raising awareness amongst NHS health practitioners and embedding gambling into the NHS systems for signposting and onward referral via primary care networks.

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Progress involving people with lived experience of gambling harms.
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Metrics for measuring harm
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