Health service is ‘picking up tab’ for a surge in gambling addicts, senior doctor says

Health service is ‘picking up tab’ for a surge in gambling addicts, senior doctor says

  • The NHS has to ‘pick up the tab’ for surge in gambling addicts attending A&E
  • There is a 42% annual rise in demand for NHS gambling clinics full of young men
  • Psychologist Matthew Gaskell says that ‘young men in football shirts’ affected
  • NHS boss Claire Murdoch said firms should ‘think about the human cost’

Doctors have warned of a surge in gambling addicts turning up to A&E – leaving the NHS to ‘pick up the tab’.

More patients are attending casualty after losing all their money in online betting sprees, say medics.

Figures also show a 42 per cent annual rise in demand for NHS gambling clinics which are full of ‘young men in football shirts’ who have fallen foul of ‘predatory tactics’ by betting firms.

Health bosses have now urged gambling giants to ‘think hard about the human cost behind their profits’.

More patients are attending casualty after losing all their money in online betting sprees (file photo)

More patients are attending casualty after losing all their money in online betting sprees (file photo)

'There has been an increase in people turning up at A&E in crisis, in a state of suicide,' said Matthew Gaskell, a consultant psychologist at NHS Northern Gambling Service

‘There has been an increase in people turning up at A&E in crisis, in a state of suicide,’ said Matthew Gaskell, a consultant psychologist at NHS Northern Gambling Service

Almost 600 patients have been referred to NHS clinics in the past six months, a 42 per cent increase on the same period last year and up 65 per cent from 2020-21, according to figures seen by The Times.

Matthew Gaskell, a consultant psychologist at NHS Northern Gambling Service, said: ‘People start gambling as soon as they wake up in the morning; they’re gambling in the shower, gambling while they’re driving to work. The NHS is picking up the tab. There has been an increase in people turning up at A&E in crisis, in a state of suicide.

‘One of the first things I noticed was that groups were filled with young men wearing football shirts,’ Mr Gaskell said. ‘That hasn’t stopped.’

He suggested GP surgeries should routinely ask new patients whether they gambled.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s mental health director, said: ‘Firms engaging in activities that fuel addiction should think hard about the human cost that can be behind their profits.’

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