CBT available to all patients via computer from April

Computer-based CBT should be available to every patient who needs it from next month, according to the DoH.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt said providing this therapy as a first-line treatment for people with anxiety and depression was a significant shift towards providing new services closer to people at home.

Through 2007/8, the establishment of computerised CBT in every PCT in England will be an important building block in the delivery of comprehensive psychological therapy services, she said.

NICE has approved two computer-based treatments for use by the NHS: Fear Fighter, for phobic, panic and anxiety disorders, and Beating the Blues for patients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

Dr Peter Crouch, a GP at the Taw Hill Medical Practice in Swindon, Wiltshire, has been using computerised CBT for three years.He said: ‘Our patients have found that it has significantly helped them to better cope with anxiety, insomnia and stress. ‘Very few services are able to be delivered within a few minutes of a consultation and in the patient's own home. We have patients who have logged in from work, home and anywhere they can access the internet. We have many patients who travel, and some have logged in from halfway around the world to continue the programme of support.’

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