- GPs should also look at software blocking tools to limit online gambling
Doctors should ask patients if they have a gambling problem in the same way they ask about drugs, smoking and alcohol, according to the new guidelines.
Bosses at the National Institute of Health and Care (Nice) say anyone who consults an NHS health professional about depression, anxiety or thoughts of self-harm or suicide should be questioned about gambling.
They should be encouraged to complete an online questionnaire that will help them assess the severity of the addiction, Nice suggests, and those who score eight or more should seek support and treatment from gambling services.
GPs should also look at software blocking tools to limit online gaming and consider referring patients for cognitive behavioral therapy.
The draft recommendations have been drawn up in an attempt to help those considered at risk of addiction to cope with their thoughts and impulses.
National Institute of Health and Care (NICE) bosses say anyone who consults an NHS health professional about depression, anxiety or thoughts of self-harm or suicide should be questioned about gambling (File Image)
Professor Jonathan Benger, medical director and acting director of the Nice guidelines centre, said: “Harmful gambling causes immense misery to all those who experience it.
“We want those who need help or who are at risk to be identified as soon as possible and receive appropriate help.”
Since 2019, NHS England has opened 12 gambling treatment clinics with a further three set to open in the coming months.
It is planned to treat up to 3,000 people a year across the 15 facilities, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Official data revealed that around 1,400 people were referred for help for gambling addiction last year, a third more than in 2021.
Doctors should ask patients if they have a gambling problem in the same way they ask about drugs, smoking and alcohol, according to new guidelines (File Image)
Fiona Macleod, director of services at charity GamCare, said Nice’s guidance is “an important step”.
She said: “Identifying a gambling problem as early as possible is vital to preventing harm from happening later, and we know that healthcare professionals can play an important role in helping more people find the support they need.”
‘We believe that these recommendations, if implemented, will present a greater opportunity to prevent harm to gambling in the UK. They represent an important step in encouraging more people to seek support through services like those offered by GamCare.
Zoe Osmond, chief executive of GambleAware, also welcomed the draft guidance, saying: “Gambling harm is a serious public health issue that can affect anyone, and health professionals are ideally placed. to identify and help people who experience them.
“We welcome the development of guidelines to better inform treatment for those severely affected by gambling harm and will respond to the consultation with our views.”