Posted on: 19 November 2020

Henrietta_Bowden-Jones_2.JPGThe founder and director of CNWL’s National Problem Gambling Clinic and the National Centre for Gaming Disorders, Prof Henrietta Bowden-Jones, has today won the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ top award – Psychiatrist of the Year.

During her acceptance speech, Prof Bowden-Jones, who is also President of Psychiatry at the Royal Society of Medicine, paid tribute to the Trust for believing in her concept of developing specialist clinics to treat people with gambling and gaming problems.

The Awards ceremony was held over zoom this afternoon (19 November) from 3.30pm to 5pm.

Her work has led to a better understanding of the neuroscience of Gambling Disorder as well as a clearer understanding of the vulnerabilities of the patients at the National Problem Gambling Clinic.

Prof Bowden-Jones was chosen despite a number of high-quality entries and was recognised for her contribution at national and international level to the field of Behavioural Addictions.

In 2008, she founded the National Problem Gambling Clinic. This was the first-ever NHS clinic designated to the treatment of Gambling Disorder and remained the only one until in 2019 the NHS Long Term plan replicated the model to create 15 more in order to provide an evidence-based network of treatment centres across England.

In 2019 with new NHS funding she founded the National Centre for Gaming Disorders, the first NHS centre to treat Gaming Disorders.

Prof Bowden-Jones has also been an advisor to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords for several years on all matters pertaining to Behavioural Addictions and has been the spokesperson on Behavioural Addictions for the Royal College of Psychiatrists for over a decade.

Last year she was awarded an OBE for “Services to Addiction Treatment and Research” and this year was made an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow in Psychiatry at Cambridge University and an Honorary Professor at UCL.

Prof Bowden-Jones said: “When I heard about the award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists I was literally speechless. I spent a few hours silently reflecting on the enormity of the news and of the fact that, for the rest of my life the recognition this award carries will be one of the most important moments of my career.

“Being bestowed this most prestigious prize, the Royal College of Psychiatrists ‘Psychiatrist of the Year Award 2020’ is the highest recognition our profession can ever dream of achieving. 

“I am honoured to receive this award and would like to share it with all the colleagues who have worked with me at the National Problem Gambling Clinic over the last 13 years.  I would like to share it too with all of our past patients, several thousands of them, whose suffering has shaped the way we truly understand the disease in all its debilitating forms.

“Gambling Disorder is a medical illness, it is an addiction and it destroys lives but it can be treated.

“In accepting this award I am truly grateful to CNWL, to its Chief Executive Claire Murdoch for always being there from the beginning, to the managers who have supported my team throughout the last fifteen years as we built a large and vibrant clinic from nothing.

“I’m also truly grateful to the Royal College of Psychiatrists for always believing in and supporting the NHS involvement in behavioural Addictions and of course, the team. At the last count, about six months ago, more than 150 people had been trained up by us at the National Problem Gambling Clinic. This award is for all of them too.

“As I speak we are still in the middle of our second lockdown. I would like to dedicate this, the most significant award a psychiatrist can ever hope to receive, to all the doctors who have died of Covid this year whilst doing their job and to all the psychiatrists who, despite the very difficult circumstances, carried on looking after the mental health of the nation. Ours is a vocation and it is at times like these that our true calling shines through.”

Dr Simon Edwards Medical Director, Diggory Division, CNWLand Honorary Associate Professor, UCL said: “It’s wonderful news. We are delighted for her and proud that she does such amazing work in CNWL. She is a tour de force in her addiction research and a very dedicated and passionate advocate of providing pioneering gambling and gaming disorder services. She’s a tireless campaigning raising  national awareness to the plight of people harmed through these disorders.”