ECT at Stobhill Hospital

Last week I posted something about how Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, had been in the headlines for having given a woman bilateral electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) when she had been prescribed, and consented to, unilateral.

It is not the first time that Stobhill Hospital has hit the headlines for its attitude to consent for ECT. On 6 October 1975 page 2 of The Times had the following headline: Man forced to undergo shock treatment, the Ombudsman says

Sir Alan Marre, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman), in a five-page report has criticized one of Scotland’s leading general hospitals, Stobhill, in Glasgow, for having forced a Lanarkshire man, aged 61, to submit to electric shock treatment after compelling him to sign a consent form….

As a result, the signing of consent forms has been changed at Stobhill and the change may affect all hospitals in Scotland.

A statement issued yesterday by the Committee for Social Justice and Mental Health Reform, a Scottish civil liberties group, said that Mr Gordon was admitted to hospital for treatment for concussion, detained against his will, forced to sign a consent form and take drugs, and given electric shocks despite his protests.

He was admitted to Stobhill on the advice of his family doctor and told he would receive treatment for concussion arising from a previous head injury. According to the committee, he was given ‘knock-out’ drugs and when he awoke next day found he had been transferred to a psychiatric ward…

Mr Gordon, who had no history of mental illness, asked to be released, but was told he could not get out until he saw a psychiatrist in two days’ time. His clothes were locked away….

Sir Alan, in his report to the Secretary of State for Scotland and to the Greater Glasgow Health Board, says that the weight of evidence suggested to him that the hospital authorities went farther than was appropriate in getting Mr Gordon to sign the form against his real wishes.

The report adds: ‘Accordingly I asked the health board to review their procedures and their instructions to staff relating to consent for ECT (electric shock treatment)…’

The recent problem at Stobhill Hospital was not with the consent procedure itself (for which another hospital had been responsible), but was due to the fact that the patient was given bilateral ECT rather than the unilateral to which she had consented. According to a report by the Scottish ECT Accreditation Network: “Seven hospitals did not administer any unilateral treatments during 2008”. I wonder if Stobhill Hospital was one of these?

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This entry was posted in 1970s, ECT in the media, ECT in the UK, ECT without consent. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ECT at Stobhill Hospital

  1. mr magoo says:

    it was my partner who was gave the wrong type of ect in stobhill hospital,she was prescribed & consented to unilateral ect last year & this year she got offered it again by the same doctor witch was unilateral ect but she was gave bilateral by mistake & I no for sure the effects of bilateral & unilateral are different & my partner knew she felt different after each treatment this year & I saw diffference in her memory this time as well & too be told its only short term memory lose,what is short term as time is going on and we both feel & see her memory not improving,i am totally stunned as how can this ect be called therapy as if you go for a memory test it consists of do you no who you are what day is it & what is the time is this not a type of test for a more serious memory health issue,i can say threw what we no now that there is a great difference in effects of unilateral & bilateral ect and we feel if its that good why was it not used in some countrys anymore or almost not used. Ect statistics am I right in saying that ect was originaly used on pigs prior to them being slatered [killed]? We would never wish any type of ect treatment on anybody, how can it be called theraputic therapy as it don’t look relaxing to me of course muscle relaxents would make anyone relax but not sure about the ect part its shambolic in our view now zap zap zap zap now you will feel great!

    • Yes that is right, except that it is called electrical stunning rather than ECT when done to animals in slaughterhouses. It is described in the RSPCA’s factfile on animal slaughter http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/farm/slaughter/factfile

      Ugo Cerletti, the Italian neurologist who first used electricity to cause seizures in people (in 1938), had visited the Rome slaughterhouse where pigs were stunned with electricity before they were killed. He was reassured by the fact that the pigs weren’t actually killed by the electric shock and this encouraged him to try it on people. Before this, convulsive therapy had been in use in psychiatric hospitals for several years but the convulsions were produced with drugs rather than electricity.

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