Bishop of St Albans asks about gambling treatment services

The Bishop of St Albans asked about funding of NHS gambling treatment services on 28th March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the announcements that the NHS (1) will no longer accept money from GambleAware, and (2) is establishing two additional NHS gambling clinics to meet demand, what plans they have to agree a long-term independent funding settlement for NHS gambling treatment services.

Lord Kamall (Con): In 2019, the NHS committed to establishing 15 specialist gambling clinics by 2023-24. Five clinics are now operational across England, with a further two to open by May. This rollout carries a budget of £15 million, including £6 million allocated for 2023-24. After this, NHS England will provide recurrent annual funding of £6 million. The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently undertaking a review to ensure there is a coherent pathway of advice and treatment for those experiencing gambling-related harm.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply, but it is quite extraordinary that, at a time when the NHS is in such dire straits, with such financial pressures, we are picking up the costs incurred by an industry. This announcement has shown that far more resources are needed to deal with the outcome of problem gambling, and that the current voluntary levy is simply inadequate to provide the level of independent research, education and treatment that we need. Will the Government commit to introducing a compulsory levy of, say, 1% of gross gambling yield on the polluter pays principle, so that taxpayers are not picking up the huge bills being created by this problem that exists right across society?

Lord Kamall: I thank the right reverend Prelate for his follow-up question and for raising the issue in the first place. He is absolutely right that we must think about this across government; DCMS leads the policy, but the Department of Health and Social Care is co-operating with it to look at the health issues. Gambling used to be considered a syndrome, but it is now recognised as an addiction. We are committing resources to it through our long-term plan, and will open 15 NHS specialist gambling clinics by 2023-24, with £15 million of funding over the period.


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