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Two new NHS gambling clinics will help meet spiralling demand

NHS England is set to open two new gambling clinics , it has announced , following ‘ record demand ’ for specialist support . The clinics , in Southampton and Stoke-On-Trent , will open in May and take the number of NHS specialist gambling services to seven . Almost 700 people with the ‘ most severe gambling addiction issues ’ were referred to NHS support between April and December last year , a 16 per cent increase on the previous year . The pandemic has seen a huge increase in the number of people gambling online , with the closure of betting shops during lockdowns and the widespread shift towards working from home . Almost 625,000 more over-65s are also now gambling online at least once a month than before the pandemic , according to analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists .

Research published by Public Health England ( PHE ) in 2021 estimated that almost 250,000 people were likely to have some form of gambling addiction , with around 2.2m classed as ‘ at risk of addiction ’. PHE ’ s evidence review into gambling harms estimated the annual cost to England alone at more than £ 1.2bn , almost £ 620m of which was ‘ an estimate of the economic cost of gambling-related suicide ’. The announcement of the new clinics comes as the NHS has written to GambleAware stating that it will be ‘ fully funding its own gambling services ’ from April , following concerns about conflicts of interest around the industry ’ s funding of treatment .
‘ Gambling addiction is a cruel mental health condition that can devastate people ’ s lives – our pilot clinics are already having a lasting impact in helping people to take back vital control of their lives ,’ said NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch . ‘ The opening of two new gambling clinics in May , as a part of our £ 2.3bn investment into mental

Home Affairs Committee investigates drug legislation

250,000 people are likely to have some form of gambling addiction , with around 2.2m classed as ‘ at risk of addiction ’.
health services , will mean we can help even more people with the most serious gambling problems .’ See feature , page 6

NI drug deaths up

Local News
SLOW PROGRESS The number of people sleeping rough fell by just under 10 per cent between 2020 and 2021 , and is down 43 per cent since 2019 , according to the Department for Levelling Up , Housing and Communities . However , the figures are still 38 per cent higher than in 2010 , with almost half of all people sleeping rough in London and the South East .
TRIED AND TESTED Forward Leeds has been offering service users free , non-invasive liver tests with instant results , using FibroScan machines . ‘ Often people aren ’ t aware of the damage that regular drinking can cause ,’ said area manager Anne-Marie McMullan . ‘ Alcohol-related liver disease doesn ’ t usually have any symptoms until your liver has been severely damaged .’
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THE HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE is to investigate the impact of legislation designed to restrict drug use , including the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 , it has announced . The investigation will form part of a wider inquiry to ‘ examine illegal drug use in the UK and its effect on society ’.
The Misuse of Drugs Act ’ s 50th anniversary last year saw it labelled ‘ past its sell-by date ’ and ‘ not fit for purpose ’, while the 2016 act was also highly controversial . The inquiry also intends to look at the effectiveness of government strategies to address drug use and drug-related deaths and crime , including the new ten-year
strategy launched late last year . Questions the committee will consider as part of the inquiry include whether the current framework needs to be reformed , should a ‘ right to recovery ’ be enshrined in UK law , and which international policies and approaches could work in the UK . ‘ First and foremost we want to see how well we are supporting those who are struggling with drug addiction and understand what more can be done to support them ,’ said committee chair Dame Diana Johnson .
Details on how to submit evidence at https :// committees . parliament . uk / call-for-evidence / 724 /. Deadline 24 March
THE NUMBER OF DRUG- RELATED DEATHS registered in Northern Ireland in 2020 was the highest on record , according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency ( Nisra ) – as was the number of drug-misuse deaths , which increased from 165 in 2019 to 182 . More than half of the deaths were among men aged 25-44 , with opioids the most commonly mentioned drug type on death certificates . Two thirds of deaths involved two or more drugs , with death rates highest in the most deprived areas .
GETTING ONBOARD More than 20 Glasgow taxi drivers have now applied to carry naloxone as part of the ongoing Stop the Deaths campaign ( DDN , February , page 5 ). ‘ During the ’ 80s I worked in some of the city ’ s worst affected areas ,’ said chair of Glasgow Taxis Dougie McPherson . ‘ The current drug death figures serve as a stark reminder that the problem has not gone away , and any way of reducing the number of deaths is worth supporting .’
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