Last year (April 2009 to March 2010) the English trust which made most requests for a SOAD (Second Opinion Appointed Doctor) to authorise the use of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) on a non-consenting patient was the North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. They made 59 requests, more than one a week.
A request for a SOAD does not always result in a non-consenting patient undergoing a course of ECT. SOAD requests can be cancelled, and occasionally the SOAD refuses to authorise ECT. But it gives an indication of how much they are using ECT without consent. Only 2 other trusts reached the 50 mark.
The North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation covers the Chelmsford, Braintree and Colchester area (the area which used to be served by Severalls Hospital before it closed) and has a catchment area of approximately one million – large, but not the largest in the country. Although their catchment population is about two per cent of the country’s population, they accounted for over four per cent of SOAD requests last year.
On their website however a search for electroconvulsive therapy comes up with no hits. Lots of photos of smiling American models, but not a mention of ECT.
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