In response to a recent Freedom of Information Act request, the Welsh Assembly Government has published statistics on the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Wales over the past five years. You can see the statistics here.
According to these statistics, 62 people underwent ECT in Wales in 2009. Fewer than five of them were detained patients. Has ECT use in Wales really fallen to this level – or is it possible that the Welsh Assembly Government is no better at collecting ECT statistics than the English Department of Health, and that this figure represents only a fraction of the ECT used in Wales?
In 1979, approximately 1,200 people in Wales underwent ECT. At that time the use the ECT in Wales was slightly below average for Great Britain (3.03 individual treatments per 1,000 population compared to 3.53 for Great Britain as a whole). By 1996, when a survey was carried out, ECT use had fallen to an estimated 642 patients annually. 71 per cent were women, and the mean age of patients was 56. About 20 per cent were detained patients, about half of whom were treated without their consent.
Is it possible that ECT use in Wales has fallen by 90 per cent over the past 13 years – without attracting any comment – or are official Welsh ECT statistics as unreliable as English ones?