Bill Moyes – NHS must be clear on its role tackling problem gambling

Speaking on the Health Service Journal‘s ‘The Bedpan’ interview series, Bill Moyes, Chair of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has warned NHS leadership of side-lining problem gambling as UK public health issue.

Having chaired the UKGC since 2016, Moyes is the former founding Executive Chairman of ‘Monitor the independent regulator for NHS’ trusts.

In the interview, Moyes breaks down gambling addiction as a broad-ranging issue, in which UK health stakeholders have to improve knowledge of the illness and its triggers.

“Even within mental health trusts” Moyes states, lack of awareness and training will mean that “quite often the focus will be on the co-morbidities to gambling rather than gambling itself” Moyes details to HSJ.

Taking on board NHS and Public Health England (PHE) pressures, Moyes details that it is now ‘desirable and timely’ for the UK health service to examine problem gambling ‘starting with primary care’.

Moyes points to changing attitudes with regards to gambling, which sees the public beginning to take on board the ‘very serious damage gambling addiction can do’  including its potential to “wreck families and careers”.

Moyes addresses NHS leaders as the UK government commits to confronting problem gambling concerns, as part of a £21 billion NHS shake-upwhich will see UK gambling health stakeholders open specialist treatment clinics in Leeds and Lancashire, improve gambling addiction networks

Highlighting a key concern, Moyes underlines that ‘quite a lot of work’ is needed to find out what exact role the NHS should play in tackling problem gambling, and how effective treatment can be rolled-out across the service’s network of clinics, surgeries and trusts.

“One of the things I will be encouraging the public health contributors to do is to try to [analyse] what kind of interventions are appropriate in which circumstances and to get a sense of what is cost effective. We’ve got to be realistic about that. We’ve got to understand the economic impact of gambling harm and we’ve got to try to get some balance between what we spend on that and intervention, prevention and treatment. I think there’s also quite a lot of work to do to find out what kind of messaging works.

“This is a serious attempt to come together and tackle [the] problem. We want the NHS to be really thoughtful about the kind of things it should and could offer for different types of problem gambling.”

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