The Primary Care Gambling Service (PCGS), a new NHS-backed program that provides help for adults struggling with gambling problems, has launched in London.
PCGS has been developed and funded by a general practice partnership in NHS, the Hurley Group, and will work with the established National Gambling Treatment Service to offer more help to those who have been affected by gambling related harm.
The new service will be led by Dr Clare Gerada, and will draw on support from a multidisciplinary team made up of therapists, mental health nurses, general practitioners, and other treatment practitioners. In setting up the service, the PCGS founders worked with the charity GamCare to develop an integrated care plan, and it will also take on the role of providing training to help GPs more easily be able to identify gambling problems in their patients.
Speaking about the issue, Dr Gerada emphasised that there was evidence to suggest those with gambling problems may be in touch with their GP, but don’t talk to them about this issue:
“We will be exploring how to identify them, and how to help them get access to the treatment that is right for them. We know from other areas of work that people value the option of getting treatment in primary care settings.”
The service will be focusing on South East London, around the areas of Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich initially, although there are plans to expand it to other London boroughs over the next few months. In addition, the PCGS will be working on producing a competency framework associated with the treatment of gambling problems in primary care, which will include setting out the necessary skills and experience to practice in this field. The framework will be supported by the Royal College of General Practitioners.
The Professional Development Officers at the Royal College, Michael Mulholland, said that the organisation welcomed the creation of a competency framework and said that it would be helpful to GPs and others working in the primary care sector in treating patients suffering from gambling harm.
Another supporter of the scheme was Anna van der Gaag, who chairs the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling. She said that it was a significant step in expanding the treatment options available to people who have suffered gambling harm, and for their families. She added that her organisation wanted to ensure that treatment was as accessible as possible by removing barriers to people asking for help and added that this was one of several initiatives that would help them to a more joined-up approach to the issue.
The announcement follows a statement by gambling charity GambleAware on Wednesday, which laid out a range of initiatives to promote its Safer Gambling Campaign along with the National Gambling Treatment Service. GambleAware also responded to recent calls for changes to the funding of the gambling research area, following criticism from a House of Lords Gambling Select Committee, emphasising that it was independent of the gambling industry.