GPs will be able to refer patients who have problems with gambling to a new support service that is being piloted across a number of areas in south east London.
The NHS Primary Care Gambling Service (PCGS) has been developed by the Hurley Group, working with gambling charity GamCare, and is being led by Professor Clare Gerada.
Patients who are referred to the service will be supported by a team of mental health nurses, GPs, treatment practitioners and therapists, working alongside the National Gambling Treatment Service.
The PCGS will also provide education to GPs to help improve their recognition of which of their patients may be experiencing harm through gambling.
The pilot will run across the south east London areas of Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich, with plans to expand the service in the next few months.
Professor Gerada, a London GP who is also medical director for GP mental health programme NHS Practitioner Health, said: ‘There is evidence that many people who have problems related to gambling are in contact with their GP, but don’t necessarily talk about their gambling.
‘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 PCGS is also working with the RCGP to set up a new ‘competency framework’ for gambling treatment in primary care, funded by GambleAware.
RCGP professional development officer lead Michael Mulholland said the framework would ‘help GPs and other primary care workers to develop their skills in treating people who are harmed through gambling’.