NHS Scotland invests in online cognitive behavioural therapy software

NHS Scotland has signed a multimillion-pound deal for the provision of a digital tool through which patients will be able to work with cognitive behavioural therapists.

An initial two-year contract – worth about £3.5m – has been signed with specialist supplier ieso. The Cambridge-based software firm offers a text-based platform connecting patients to one of its team of therapists that, in addition to their standard professional qualifications, have also undertaken an “assessment to demonstrate they have the specific skills to deliver typed CBT online.

The deal was awarded via NHS National Services Scotland, a nationwide public body which provides a range of cross-cutting shared services and support to health service bodies across the country.

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A newly published procurement notice said: “NHS Scotland has procured an internet-enabled CBT service, with CBT delivered by qualified therapy staff through a digital solution by written word. The contract includes the provision of support and maintenance of the software solution and other services associated with the software, and the delivery of evidence-based CBT treatment in a safe and ethical way.”

A number of Scottish NHS bodies already offer digital access to self-guided therapy tools but the engagement with ieso will enable patients to access practitioner-led sessions.

The company has already provided its webchat therapy tool to various health-service bodies across England. The firm’s website says that “typed CBT is proven to be as effective as face-to-face CBT at helping you feel better and live the life you want to lead”.

In the last 15 years CBT has become on the NHS’s most widely used treatments for mental-health issues. Most commonly used to treat mild to moderate depression or anxiety problems, it is a form of talking therapy that, according to the NHS website, “is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a negative cycle”.

Sam Trendall

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