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The NHS has opened its first gaming addiction clinic

09 October 2019

New plans have been announced to give young people who are seriously addicted to computer games better access to NHS treatment.

The condition is being taken very seriously in the United Kingdom, where the country's national health service has opened its first specialist clinic to treat those whose constant gaming is negatively impacting their lives.

People aged between 13 and 25 in England can ask for a referral to the service from their GP or other health professional.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: "Health needs are constantly changing, which is why the NHS must never stand still".

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The decision to classify gaming disorder as a mental health condition for the first time was heavily criticised by leading video game firms, who argued the move was not based on sufficiently robust evidence and created a risk of misdiagnosis for patients.

World Health Organization defines gaming disorder as a pattern of gaming behaviour characterised by "impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences".

"As technology becomes more accessible and more advanced, it's unsurprising that more and more young people are potentially* being negatively affected by excessive screen time to the point where it effects their daily lives".

"Whilst the NHS has a duty of care and is adapting to these modern challenges, it and taxpayers can't foot the bill alone", Smith said. The new clinic will feature the services of clinical psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists focused on the treatment of youth, and nurses with a focus on mental health. Smith went on to assert that gaming firms should "take more responsibility by keeping their platforms safe, and introduce safeguards to reduce the burden on the health service".

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However, the Royal college of Nursing (RCN) has responded today calling for more responsibility on gaming firms rather than the NHS.

NHS England said many other countries are grappling with the issue of gaming and internet addiction.

He quoted other countries that had banned under-16s from online gaming after midnight. The clinic has been set up in light of the WHO classification, and the growing concern among parents that too much time spent on video games can lead to mental and physical health issues.

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The NHS has opened its first gaming addiction clinic