Welsh academics urge immediate action on setting up NHS gambling support in Wales

Swansea University researchers have published an article in Frontiers in Psychiatry, urging the Welsh government to establish NHS gambling harms services in Wales. They argue that the absence of treatment services for gambling addiction is unacceptable and must be urgently addressed.

The researchers, from the University’s School of Psychology and the Gambling Research, Education and Treatment (GREAT) Network Wales, point out that people in Wales are as much at risk of experiencing harms from gambling as anywhere else in the UK. Despite the growing demand for gambling harms services, there are currently no clinics open in Wales, while England is set to have 15 clinics soon.

This issue has been acknowledged as a public health concern, and Public Health Wales commissioned a health needs assessment to identify challenges surrounding the awareness, accessibility, and acceptability of current gambling treatment and support provision. The UK Government’s Gambling White Paper has also called for the development of specialist treatment services in Wales, and the Welsh Government’s Task and Finish Group on Gambling-Related Harms proposed the delivery of a specialist gambling treatment service for Wales.

Professor Simon Dymond, the Director of GREAT Network Wales, emphasized the urgent need for NHS-commissioned gambling harms services in Wales and the importance of putting words into action. He noted that while there are specialized gambling help and support services in England, such an option is not currently available for the people of Wales. Professor Dymond also mentioned the proposed introduction of a statutory levy as a potential means of funding the essential service, but stressed the immediate need for NHS investment in gambling harms services for Wales.

The researchers hope that their article will prompt action from the Welsh government and key stakeholders to provide specialized gambling harms treatment services that meet the needs of the Welsh people. They also highlighted the importance of addressing this public health issue and ensuring that people with high gambling severity have access to treatment and support from NHS-commissioned specialist gambling treatment services.

The article, titled “The ongoing need for NHS gambling harms services in Wales: time to put words into action,” was authored by Simon Dymond et al and published in Frontiers in Psychiatry in 2023. The researchers are calling for urgent action to establish NHS gambling harms services in Wales and provide essential support to those experiencing gambling harms.