GPs must diagnose and treat problem gambling

GPs should view gambling as a recognised addiction and provide patients with gambling therapy, according to the BMA.

UK legislation, due in September will increase gambling facilities and may result in a rise in problem gambling, according to a report by the BMA’s board of science.

According to the report, there are almost no treatment services for problem gambling available on the NHS. Advice and support for people with gambling problems come from private and charitable organisations throughout the UK.

The BMA recommends that GPs should be aware of the types of gambling and the psychological problems associated with problem gambling. In addition, all adolescent problem gambling should be taken as seriously as it is in adults.

GPs should also receive education and training in the diagnosis, appropriate referral and effective treatment of gambling addiction, it says.

BMA head of science and ethics Dr Vivienne Nathanson said that gambling operators and service providers should pay at least £10 million per annum, via the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, to fund the research and training programmes.

The DoH did not back the call for extra resources. A spokesman said: ‘Anybody with a gambling problem who seeks help from the NHS will be offered support and, if necessary, treatment to help them overcome their addiction.’

Meanwhile, a report by the Office for National Statistics  found that the average UK family spent more per week on gambling (£3.60) than on fresh fruit (£2.80) or fresh vegetables (£3.40).

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