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A hospital is set to launch an NHS-funded internet addiction centre

File photo of a person playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 on the XBox 360. Photo: PA

A hospital is set to launch an NHS-funded internet addiction centre.

A spokesman for the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust said the centre is set to start in the next couple of weeks but could not confirm the numbers of patients who are being signed up for treatment.

Its aim will be to tackle gaming disorders but other internet-based addictions could be treated in the future.

Psychiatrist and clinic founder Henrietta Bowden-Jones told The Guardian the west London centre will seek to provide treatment, do research and give advice to families.

She told The Guardian: “Gaming disorder is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Gaming is considered to be addictive Credit: PA

“The distress and harm it can cause is extreme and I feel a moral duty on behalf of the NHS to provide the evidence-based treatment these young people and their families need.

“We are unlikely to witness an epidemic of young players with an addiction to gaming but for the ones who do struggle, the centre for internet disorders will be a life-changer.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified gaming disorder as an addiction earlier this week.

The WHO included “gaming disorder” in the latest revision of its disease classification manual, describing it as a pattern of persistent gaming behaviour so severe it “takes precedence over other life interests”.

However, experts said there is a lack of scientific evidence into playing video games and excessive screen time, and criticised the move for making a hobby seem abnormal.

The draft version of the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD), published earlier this week, said impaired control over gaming and increased priority given to gaming are among the symptoms of the disorder.