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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

6 - Gambling is not yet fully integrated with local public health activity

There have been a number of positive pilots to demonstrate how harm prevention and support for at risk groups can be integrated with wider services and public health activities. Many of these are referred to elsewhere in this report, and include:

  • Primary Care Gambling Service, which provides professional development learning and resources for GPs
  • Citizens Advice work, funded by GambleAware, to develop systems and training on gambling harms for frontline staff in advice settings
  • Surrey Prisons Gambling Service project, funded by GambleAware, to provide screening and support in custodial settings100
  • Pilot project in Hertfordshire by GamCare to provide specialist support to people in the criminal justice system from arrest through to probation101
  • Personal Finance Research Centre’s development of resources for the financial services sector.

There has also been good progress in the Greater Manchester collaborative102, Leeds City Council collaborative103 and the Glasgow whole systems approach pilot104, reflecting a growing potential for people to come forward for treatment and support from a wide range of settings. The Greater Manchester collaborative held a Gambling Harms Inquiry day to explore how gambling harms arise and how people can be better supported.

Although this represents progress in exploring ways that gambling harm reduction activities can be integrated within existing services, there is still a lot of work to do to achieve national system wide changes and secure long-term funding which is not dependent upon voluntary contributions.

In addition to the constraints associated with the voluntary system of funding, one of the key barriers to progress is a lack of data at local authority level. Without this it is difficult for local authorities, who have responsibility for public health, to identify the communities within their population who are most at risk of harm, develop effective prevention policy and strategies, and make the case for prioritising action.

There are some key changes that would help to change this. One is to achieve progress on including a gambling participation and harm questions in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) and their equivalents in Scotland and Wales. The PHOF provides annual outcome data for each local authority in England. The information could be obtained via the ONS Labour Force Survey which is UK-wide and as such would also provide consistent data for the devolved nations. Inclusion in PHOF would trigger incentives for local action by local authorities.

Similarly, NHS records do not yet include an option for health practitioners to code gambling harms co-occurring with other harms or mental health conditions. The University College London treatment needs and gap analysis may contribute to the work that needs be led by statutory bodies and we look forward to reporting next year on how this work has been used105.

We acknowledge that slow progress may be because public bodies have had to re-direct resources towards tackling the effects of Covid-19. The long-term impacts of Covid are yet to be fully understood (such as increased household debt, effects on mental health), but the need for robust data especially at local authority level is likely to be important to both national and local public health Covid-19 recovery planning.

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Increased engagement from the financial services sector
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Increased education and awareness raising activity
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