Wales finds another 49 ECT patients

In a previous post I commented on a problem with statistics published by the Welsh Assembly Government. They claim that very small numbers of people receive ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) in Wales. But their figures are contradicted by figures from the Health Inspectorate Wales, which keeps track of people treated without their consent under s58A of the Mental Health Act. The Health Inspectorate Wales figures are the accurate ones; apart from anything else they have to pay a SOAD (second opinion appointed doctor) to visit when someone is treated under s58A.

In response to another Freedom of Information request, the Welsh Assembly Government have published some revised figures, which have nearly doubled the previous total. They now say that 111 people underwent ECT in Wales in the year April 2009-March 2010 (the previous figures were not directly comparable as they were for a calendar year) The figure is still too small but at least it now has the right number of digits.

I think it would probably have to be doubled again to produce a reasonable figure. In Scotland, which has a better record for collecting statistics on ECT use, about 20 to 25 per cent of patients are treated without their consent. If the proportion in Wales is roughly similar, it would mean that, with about 50 non-consenting patients a year, Wales would be treating a total of 200 to 250 people with ECT. If the proportion of non-consenting patients in Wales is much higher, that in itself would be of concern.

Here are the number of requests for a SOAD visit to authorise the use of ECT on a non-consenting patient, received between in the 17-month period, April 2009 and August 2010. Approximately 83 per cent of these result in someone having ECT, with a few people having more than one course. In brackets is an estimate for the period April 2009 to March 2010. In bold is the total number of people undergoing ECT according to the Welsh Assembly Government.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Trust 11 (8) 2

Aneurin Bevan Health Board 13 (8) 23

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board 21 (14) 24

Cardiff and Vale University Health board 26 (18) 50

Cwm Taf Health Board 5 (4) 7

Hywel Dda Health Board 22 (14) 5

Powys Local Health Board 1 (1) 0

The most improbable figures belong to Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Trust and Hywel Dda Health Board.

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