The Care Quality Commission (CQC) today published their annual report on monitoring the Mental Health Act in England 2011/12. The report contains brief statistics and comments on the use of ECT under the Mental Health Act, that is, on patients who are considered incapable of making a decision about ECT and are treated without their consent. The CQC has a panel of psychiatrists (second opinion appointed doctors or SOADs) who give their approval for treatment.
According to the report, there were 1006 completed SOAD visits in 2011/12, a slight increase (about 3 per cent) from the previous year. SOADs very seldom withhold approval for ECT, so this will represent approximately the number of people given ECT without their consent. About one quarter of the patients had already been given at least one ECT treatment before the SOAD visit.
Figure 32 on page 93 of the report shows that over 85 per cent of those treated with ECT without their consent were women (even allowing for the 18 patients treated under the criminal justice provisions of the Act, 17 of whom were men, who do not appear in the diagram). Can this statistic really be true? The accompanying text says: “Male patients account for less than a third of the overall number.” I suppose 15 per cent is indeed less than a third, but it seems an odd way of putting it.