GambleAware has called for ‘continued collaboration’ between the industry, treatment providers, healthcare agencies and local authorities to ensure ‘the success and expansion of the National Gambling Treatment Service’.
In an open letter in response to the House of Lords Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry Committee, the charity clarified the overall structure of the organisation and addressed any questions relating to funding agreements with treatment providers.
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, addressed some of the issues raised at the Committee’s session on 10 March, which was attended by GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings and Interim Chief Executive of Gordon Moody Association Matthew Hickey.
Etches wrote: “Over the course of this inquiry, the Committee will have hopefully gained a sense of the strong commitment to collaborative working that exists throughout the National Gambling Treatment Service.
“Specific mechanisms have been put in place to support and underpin this collaboration, and a key aspect of GambleAware’s function as commissioner is to lead the development of those tools and processes.
“It may be helpful to know that GambleAware, the Gambling Commission and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have agreed a programme of work to develop an inspection regime for gambling treatment service, which CQC is set to carry out.
“The development phase of this work is being disrupted by COVID-19, but we hope to make a formal announcement of how this will be undertaken as soon as possible. Independent inspection by the CQC will provide us, and all interested parties, with an authoritative assessment of the quality of services.
In the Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry meeting on 10 March, the Committee heard evidence from treatment providers, which primarily considered the accessibility and effectiveness of problem gambling treatments that are currently available.
In its remit, the Committee seeks to establish ‘reliable facts’ on unique gambling industry factors and dynamics, with the purpose of developing better regulatory frameworks and future oversight.
Etches continued: “We also want to make clear that the relationship between provider and commissioner is a wholly collaborative one. It does not involve the former pleading for funding from the latter, as was perhaps suggested during the session (and which we do not feel represents either our aims or work in practice). Co-design runs throughout our work, with providers and commissioners contributing their respective perspectives and insights to initiatives to improve and develop gambling treatment.
“The Committee also spent some time discussing the Grant Agreements that GambleAware has with treatment providers, and there seemed to be a concern these agreements are being used to enforce monopsony. I want to reassure you that this is not the case.
“As an independent charity, GambleAware needs to be able to account for its expenditure. Trustees would be failing in their duty if GambleAware was giving money to a particular activity that was simultaneously being funded from another source, i.e. ‘double-funded’.
“Also, we are keen to ensure that the Grant Agreements do not stifle innovation, or additional investment. This is demonstrated, for example, in the funding from NHS England to support both the Problem Gambling Clinic based at Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust and the NHS Northern Gambling Service being run by the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, over and above the preexisting, continuing funding from GambleAware.
“GambleAware is committed to ensuring the success and expansion of the National Gambling Treatment Service and the prevention and research activity supporting it. This will require continued collaboration with treatment providers (alongside national health agencies, local authorities, and others), which continues to be at the heart of our approach.”