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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

2 - Expansion of treatment and support services in new areas

GambleAware oversee a network of gambling treatment services, much of which is provided through GamCare and its provider network and some through the NHS. In recent years, this treatment system has made many welcome developments to the availability of its services, including:

  • 24-hour operation of the National Gambling Helpline116
  • delivery of a programme tailored to the needs of women117
  • expansion of an NHS led specialist treatment service for children118
  • establishing a lived experience network to inform its development.

Steps have also been taken to obtain more insights into barriers to access for key groups with specific research carried out into the needs of women119 and ethnic minorities120.

There is growing recognition that individuals from ethnic minority groups may experience greater levels of gambling harms but not come forward for existing treatment services. This has led to the development of new support led by individuals with lived experience from those communities. Such initiatives reflect the well-established model of treatment and support in New Zealand, where those from Maori and Pacific Island communities provide support for those harmed by gambling in collaboration with mental health practitioner colleagues121.

There has been growing activity in the provision of identification, treatment and support from local projects across England, Wales and Scotland. In Cheshire, the police force has expanded their work and are now collaborating with twelve other forces in England to develop screening, signposting and awareness training of gambling harms amongst their staff, offering better support for those in custody suites. Examples of other successful pilots include the work of ARA in Wales on early interventions122 as well as treatment and the Primary Care Gambling Service in England.

Access to the right support at the right time remains patchy and there continues to be a lack of clarity on how successful pilots will be expanded across Great Britain and how they will be funded in the longer term. The voluntary system of funding impedes long term planning and adequate infrastructure to support these critical new treatment and support services.

Case study 6: Primary Care Gambling Service

The Primary Care Gambling Service (PCGS) is a multi-disciplinary treatment service which aims to provide a GP-led intermediate care, bridging the gap between primary care, specialist and third sector provision123.

To date the pilot has co-produced a competency framework for GP training which, pending approval by the Royal College of GPs will become the framework for awareness raising of gambling harms amongst GPs124. It has also secured a new screening question on gambling in ‘eConsult’, a digital triage platform available to 23 million users of primary care services across England. The screening question relates both to individuals’ own gambling, and to that of people in the same household.

PCGS is also in discussion with software suppliers to establish a better coding, referral and information system for use in primary care. The system will allow the primary care team to signpost their patients for appropriate help. Between October and January 2021, 13,000 individuals clicked on the new gambling question. To date 90 individuals have consulted with their GP on gambling related concerns.

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Treatment and support
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The evidence base for treatment is developing but incomplete
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