National Gambling Treatment Service improves PGSI scores for Scottish and Welsh users

The UK gambling charity GambleAware has published its first detailed reports on Scottish and Welsh users of the National Gambling Treatment Service (NGTS).

According to the findings, more than half of the people that completed treatment with the NGTS are no longer classified as problem gamblers.

It was also revealed that treatment with the NGTS significantly improved individuals’ Problem Gambling Severity Index (PSGI) score. This uses the answers to 12 questions which are designed to classify individuals as a non-problem, low-risk, moderate-risk or a problem gambler.

The data for both Scotland and Wales was independently collected by the healthcare research consultancy ViewitUK. GambleAware intends to provide stakeholders with a regional view of how the NGTS is progressing.

Scotland’s figures

According to the Scotland report, the NGTS treated a total of 295 people between 2019 and 2020 and 90% of participants saw an improvement in their PGSI score. Of those who were treated 77% were male and 95% of all participants were from a white ethnic background.

Effective NGTS treatment resulted in more than half of participants who were previously classed as problem gamblers, no longer being classed as problem gamblers by the end of treatment.

The report also noted that 66% of Scottish participants saw their CORE-10 score improve. This is a mental health assessment that is used to measure a persons’ level of psychological distress.

The percentage of patients completing scheduled treatment also increased to 58% in 2019-2020 from 51% in 2015-2016. Meanwhile, the number of people who dropped out of treatment fell to 29% in 2019-2020 from 45% in 2015-2016.

GambleAware also revealed that on average Scottish NGTS patients were spending £1,558 on gambling in the months prior to commencing treatment. Of those that underwent treatment, 63% said they were in debt due to their gambling habits.

Lisa-Marie Patton, Team Leader at GamCare Scotland, said: “The results from this report illustrate how treatment can make a real difference to people’s lives, which is why we are working to ensure that it is available to the greatest number possible. Better links with health and social care services will help us to connect more people with the treatment that they need for gambling harms.”

NGTS performance in Wales

Turning to the Wales report, GambleAware revealed it treated 271 people in Wales, 68% of whom were male. According to the findings, 94% of patients who received treatment saw their PGSI score improve.

After receiving treatment, 57% of Welsh gamblers who were classified as problem gamblers were no longer in the high-risk category. The findings also revealed that 87% of patients saw an improvement in their CORE-10 scores.

Similar to the Scotland report, the number of Welsh patients completing scheduled treatment increased to 80% in 2019-2020 form 64% in 2015-2016. The number of patients that dropped out of treatment fell dramatically from 28% in 2015-2016 to 15% for 2019-2020.

GambleAware explained that Wales had the highest professional referral rates for the whole of Great Britain. Welsh GP referral rates for the NGTS maintained a steady 4% compared to 1.5% across other devolved administrations.

On average Welsh NGTS patients were spending £1,330 a month prior to beginning treatment and 65% of those people said they were in debt.

Dr Jane Rigbye, GambleAware Interim Director of Commissioning: “We are pleased to see the
improvement in the rate of treatment completion and that 94% of those service users who did complete treatment showed improvement when measured against the Problem Gambling Severity Index. Also, we are encouraged to see a relatively high level of professional referrals through GPs and other services.

“However, this report makes clear there is still much to be done to improve awareness and take-up of treatment services available to those who are experiencing gambling harms in Wales. GambleAware is committed to pursuing greater collaboration with the NHS, public health bodies, local authorities and the third sector across Wales to improve awareness of the National Gambling Treatment Service.”