The chief executive described compulsive gambling as one of the “new threats” facing the NHS and warned the already overstretched health service is being left to “pick up the pieces” from gambling-related mental health issues.
Reports foreign gambling problems were “failing to play their part” in funding treatment for the public health issue were “deeply concerning”, he told a conference in Manchester.
Although betting companies who reap profits Britain are encouraged to contribute a total of £10m to addiction treatments, a number of firms who sponsor Premier League clubs have yet to pay up this financial year, according to a July report in the The Sunday Times.
Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo, Mr Stevens said: “There is an increasing link between problem gambling and stress, depression and other mental health problems.
“Doctors report that two thirds of problem gamblers get worse without help and the NHS does offer specialist treatment.
“But reports that foreign gambling companies are failing to play their part in co-funding help for addicts are deeply concerning.
“Taxpayers and the NHS should not be left to pick up the pieces the health of the nation is everyone’s responsibility.
“The NHS will now work with the Premiership on how we persuade these foreign gambling companies to do the right thing.”
Mr Stevens said the NHS needs to get “more serious about aspects of prevention in public health, including what you might call ‘the new public health”’, with an estimated 430,000 people in the UK dealing with a gambling problem.
“One of the things, if we’re serious about prevention, that we need to do – we need to be getting on to the Premier League and asking them to ensure that those foreign gambling firms are playing their part,” he told the audience.
Around 370,000 11 to 16-year-olds spent their money on gambling in the course of one week in England, Scotland and Wales, according to a report published by the Gambling Commission last year.
The regulator estimated that 25,000 were problem gamblers.
Press Association contributed to this report
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