GambleAware to commission partner to evaluate NGSN effectiveness

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GambleAware is looking to commission an evaluation and learning partner to assess the effectiveness of the National Gambling Support Network.

Within its invitation to tender, GambleAware noted that the partner will play a “key role in generating and disseminating learning throughout the NGSN as well as conducting an integrated review of its clinical, operational and economic effectiveness”.

In addition, the gambling support charity said that the flagship, mixed-methods programme will examine NGSN as a system, providing “valuable insights and assurances to support the future commissioning of the NGSN post-white paper”.

Open to various evaluation questions, strands and methodologies, GambleAware is also encouraging the commissioned partner to provide additional insights, knowledge and creativity.

Previously known as the National Gambling Treatment Service, the NGSN was redesigned in 2022 to meet the growing and changing needs of those at risk of gambling harm, offering a regional first approach and improving referral routes for those that need support, as only a small group of people were accessing treatment services.

The network consists of 11 organisations split across regional providers – ARA, Aquarius, Beacon Counselling Trust, Breakeven, GamCare, NECA and RCA Trust – and national providers – Adferiad Recovery, BetKnowMore, GamCare, Primary Care Gambling Service and Gordon Moody.

However, the NGSN structure will soon be changed in line with regulatory changes of the Gambling Review’s white paper, which will see the establishment of a statutory levy on operators to fund problem gambling research, education, and treatment projects, organisations and initiatives.

As part of the changes, the government has proposed the creation of three separate commissioners: a treatment commissioner led by the NHS; a research commissioner led by the UKRI; and a yet-to-be-confirmed prevention commissioner.

GambleAware has previously stated it broadly supports the changes as it believes the statutory levy can have “transformational potential” for gambling harms treatment.

However, the charity is pushing for a single prevention and treatment commissioner or close collaboration among commissioners, as treatment and support by the NGSN would fall under the NHS in its treatment commissioner role.

As a result of the transition and to “offer insights into its benefits, functioning and strengths, an evaluation of the NGSN as a holistic system is being sought”.

GambleAware noted: “A robust and independent evaluation is crucial to generate the necessary insights to engage key stakeholders and inform decision-making, ultimately leading to the adoption of the optimal prevention and treatment model.

“The presence of an independent evaluation will also enhance the credibility to the NGSN as a system particularly in future partnership endeavours with the NHS.”

GambleAware has given the evaluation a budget of up to £350,000 and has asked for project proposals to be sent to [email protected] with the subject line ‘NGSN – Learning and evaluation partner’ by May 8.

“While final outputs will be required by December 2025, we expect early and interim findings to be disseminated to GambleAware sooner/on a more regular basis, where possible, that align to key decision-making junctures,” the charity stated.

“It is vital to the success of this work that insights are available in a timely manner and can inform the transition to a statutory levy system. In this way, this work should be seen as formative, in that it seeks to provide insights as they are generated in order to inform ongoing discussions around the white paper.”