Computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) is fully available in just nine of 152 primary care trusts in England, according to new figures.
Beating the Blues, a computer-based cognitive behavioural therapy package, was approved three years ago by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for people with mild depression and anxiety.
John Smith, director of Ultrasis, the company behind Beating the Blues and which provided the figures, told a national newspaper that the government has been “taking credit” for a policy whose implementation it has failed to ensure.
“I don’t think the government have chased PCTs up on this,” Smith said.
He claimed CCBT could cost as little as £30 per session and could save the NHS millions every year.
“If the NICE binding guidance was followed there would be a cost benefit to the NHS of £126m a year,” he told the Guardian newspaper.
However, care services minister Phil Hope said there were no grounds for suggesting that CCBT was not a priority.
“Primary care trusts are obliged to provide funding for Nice-recommended CCBT packages where clinicians want to use them.
“We expect that PCTs will roll out this service according to local needs, but clinicians are best placed to decide what treatments to use for their patients.”
Nice also approved the FearFighter programme for panic attacks and phobia.
Some clinicians have criticised CCBT, which can be provided at GP surgeries, as “dehumanising”.