Coronavirus: Gambling addiction treatments paused as staff redeployed

 Ex-gambling addict Bray Ash, who once lost his entire student loan in a day, said the return of professional sport left people at risk.

BBC research reveals some NHS staff who helped people with addiction were moved to other roles during the pandemic.

NHS trusts said they had to redeploy staff to "where the need was greatest".

The BBC Shared Data Unit reported in May that search interest in online casinos had hit an all-time high in the UK since lockdown began. Search interest has since risen again.

Mr Ash developed an online gambling addiction, mostly on sport, while studying for a university degree and once gambled away his student loan within 24 hours of receiving it.

In 2018, he received treatment at the Gordon Moody Association in Dudley, West Midlands, when he had anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. He has continued to attend meetings since.

"I think it [the return of professional sports] could have triggered a lot of anxiety," he said.

"We went from having football on all over the world to none at all [during lockdown]. 

"And I've never heard of anyone going to horseracing because they want to admire the horses.

"People might have a massive gambling binge because they couldn't for a while. These people could be high risk going forward.