Treatment for people suffering from gambling addiction in the UK have been placed on pause during the months of lockdown, a report by the BBC outlined. Due to the virus outbreak, NHS personnel have been redeployed where they were needed most, jeopardizing the improvement in the treatment of gambling addicts across the country.
Staff Redeployed, Treatment Halted, Assessment Postponed
The research undertaken by the national media showed that 8 out of 30 members of staff from the two NHS’s trusts, the Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) and the Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust (LYP), who were dealing with gambling treatment, were moved to different roles without backfill. As a result, the ongoing treatment for 33 people was placed on hold, another 29 waiting for assessment were also paused, while contact was maintained remotely for 78.
This happened during times when data showed a spike in the interest for online gambling, with searches for online casino reportedly hitting an all-time high during the lockdown. Despite the overall drop due to the lack of professional sports, data showed gamblers substituted sports betting with playing online slots, poker, casino and even betting on esports.
Gambling charities have been expressing their concern that vulnerable people are likely to reach out to gambling due to isolation, boredom, personal conflicts and financial insecurities, prompting recovering addicts into relapses. The Gordon Moody Association, a leading gambling addiction charity, pointed out the significant increase in the number of gamblers seeking help, from around 30 a month to nearly 1,000 during the period of lockdown.
The LYP which covers the north of England including north Midlands had 4 of its 18 staff redeployed, a response under the Freedom of Information Act showed. The trust had 25 out 125 people referred not progressed to assessment, with the period from contact to assessment stretching from the usual 14 days to nearly a month.
CNWL, which had previously deployed to work in substance misuse services 12 members of staff, redeployed 4 of them due to more pressing needs arising from the virus outbreak. The trust pointed out it carefully risk-assessed everyone in treatment and on its waiting lists, and only those deemed as low risk were placed on hold. CNWL outlined it kept track of the people whose treatment was halted and offered them a series of pre-treatment therapy groups, while patients who were waiting for treatment were offered information about GamCare.
UK adults who have problems with gambling addiction now have another option to receive help as a new Primary Care Gambling Service opened up in London recently. Besides offering relief for people suffering from gambling-related harm, the NHS-backed service is also looking to train general practitioners to be able to recognize the gambling addiction symptoms in the early stages.