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Referring into the National Gambling Treatment Service

As a Healthcare professional you may find yourself working with a client or patient that is having difficulty with their gambling. On this page, we provide you with information on how to have conversations about gambling, and where you can refer those that may need specialist support or advise.

Referring a patient into the National Gambling Treatment Service  

People experiencing gambling harm can present with depression, anxiety, stress from financial difficulties. They may struggle to talk to their health care provider about gambling, and many may not know such services exist. But you can help by asking a simple question… Has your gambling or the gambling of someone close to you had a negative impact on your life? You may feel uncomfortable about talking to a client about their gambling, however if they do have a problem, they may be relieved to be able to discuss it. If they don't, they're unlikely to be offended by the question. 

As a healthcare professional, you can encourage your patients to make contact with the National Gambling Treatment Service by emphasising that it is completely confidential, free to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provides telephone, online and face-to-face support for individuals and groups. 

3 Steps to refer a patient to the National Gambling Treatment Service: 

  • Step 1: Learn about the National Gambling Treatment Service  
  • Step 2: Identifying gambling related harm
  • Step 3: Making referrals to the National Gambling Treatment Service  

Step 1: Learn about the National Gambling Treatment Service 

The National Gambling Treatment Service is a network of organisations working together to provide confidential treatment and support for anyone experiencing gambling-related harms in England, Scotland and Wales. Wherever someone makes contact throughout this network these providers work alongside each other through referral pathways to deliver the most appropriate package of care for individuals experiencing difficulties with gambling, and for those who are impacted by someone else’s gambling.  

It's free to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provides telephone, online and face-to-face support for individuals and groups. 

Call or chat 

You or your patient can speak with our advisers from the National Gambling Helpline, operated by GamCare, either on a one-to-one basis over the phone or via online chat 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

Our advisors will listen to what is going on with your client and talk through options for support most appropriate to their needs. 

Call 0808 8020 133 or live chat here

Step 2: Identifying gambling related harm

Healthcare professionals outside of the National Gambling Treatment Service are often the first port of call for people seeking help with gambling related harm though the patient may not be aware that gambling is the issue and often are preoccupied with other symptoms such as anxiety, depression or stress that may result from gambling related harm. Your key task is to be aware that gambling can cause harm and be prepared to ask about it. 

This can be a simple as asking the following question. 

Has your gambling or the gambling of someone close to you had a negative impact on your life?

Understanding and recognising the symptoms and issues people who experience harms from gambling present with to their healthcare professionals will better equip you to offer the right support.  

Some of the common issues people who experience gambling harm present with to healthcare providers are: 

  • relationship breakdown  
  • financial difficulty 
  • stress 
  • depression 

The reluctance of many clients to talk about a gambling problem can be due to a number of factors, including: 

  • shame and embarrassment 
  • a lack of hope that their gambling can change based on a history of unsuccessful attempts  
  • a fear of being judged 
  • they do not recognise gambling as the main issue 
  • they recognise the problems caused by their gambling but do not feel able or ready to tackle the issue. 

Step 3: Making referrals to the National Gambling Treatment Service

Taking this first step can be the most challenging so you may want to offer making the phone call together to ensure your patient feels supported.  

If your client requires continued support through your service for other matters, it’s important to follow up with them on the referral to be aware of what support or treatment they may go on to receive. 

If your client decides against a referral to the National Gambling Treatment Service, you can still contact the National Gambling Helpline for advice on next steps. There are a number of stages of change, so it might be helpful to understand what stage your client may be at in their journey – you can read more about the change process here