Latest on ECT from Scotland

Today the Scottish ECT Accreditation Network (SEAN)
published their annual report on the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Scotland, covering the period from January to December 2012. Mostly it is the pretty much the same as the previous one. In 2012, 362 people in Scotland were given 434 courses of ECT, or 4008 individual treatments. The number of individual treatments has fallen significantly, bringing down the median number of treatments per course from 10.1 to 8. Women still account for 65 per cent of patients; 32 per cent of patients do not consent to treatment.

The median age of patients remains 58. Only about 3 per cent of patients are under the age of 30. The report says: “ECT was administered to adult patients from all age groups”. There is no mention of the patient aged under 18 who appeared in the Mental Welfare Commission’s annual report. However, the Mental Welfare Commissions statistics cover a slightly different period – April 2012 to March 2013 – so perhaps they were treated in 2013 and will be mentioned in the next SEAN report.

As in the previous year, 97 per cent of ECT courses in Scotland involved bilateral electrode placement.

Dumfries and Galloway Health Board would appear to be the heaviest user of ECT, using it at about 8 times the rate as the lowest user, Forth Valley Health Board. For individual hospitals: the Royal Cornhill has the highest number of courses with 73, well ahead of the Royal Edinburgh, second-highest with 53.

At the end of October Alison McInnes, the Liberal Democrat Member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Scotland put nine questions about ECT to the Government. The questions concerned:

  1. the tests applied to determine capacity to consent to or refuse ECT
  2. whether or not there is a requirement to tell patients that ECT can lead to permanent memory loss
  3. whether there is any research on ECT and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder
  4. whether it considers that the use of ECT in the absence of informed consent constitutes inhuman or degrading treatment
  5. the length on average of ECT courses
  6. what percentage of patients treated with ECT relapse within 12 months
  7. what percentage of patients treated with ECT commits suicide
  8. what the mortality rate is among patients over 65 who are receiving electroconvulsive therapy
  9. how many requests to the Mental Welfare Commission to use ECT on a patient who is refusing or objecting to it but is deemed to lack capacity are agreed or turned down
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5 Responses to Latest on ECT from Scotland

  1. Thanks, a very useful blog post. No surprise about Royal Cornhill having highest number of ECT courses as the king of ECT, Prof Ian Reid, psychiatrist and neuroscientist, practises there, in Aberdeen.

    I’m thinking the nine questions put forward from Alison McInnes MSP came from Hunter Watson, human rights campaigner, who lives in Aberdeen and who campaigns against ECT and against forced treatment in psychiatric settings. As I do.

    Cheers, Chrys

    • just to add, I passed on my comment to Prof Reid who says that Cornill serves 3 health board areas – Orkney, Shetland and Grampian, hence the higher number.

      • Even allowing for the fact that the Royal Cornhill’s patients come from Orkney and Shetland as well as Grampian, I think Grampian would still be second behind Dumfries and Galloway in the league table of page 2 of the report (number of patients treated by Health Board, per 100,000 population). Orkney and Shetland would only add less than 10 per cent to the Grampian catchment population (I have seen population figures of 526,000 for Grampian, 21,000 for Orkney and 23,000 for Shetland). Looked at another way, the Royal Cornhill has a catchment population, including Orkney and Shetland, of about 11 per cent of Scotland and is responsible for about 18 per cent of Scotland’s ECT.

  2. David says:

    “Electro convulsive therapy” – no one’s brain is short of electricity, this isn’t a treatment or a therapy it is torture. The question above whether there is any requirement to let patients/victims know about the damage ECT will do to their brains is staggering in its arrogance and unethical way beyond the point of criminality. If you did this to someone and you weren’t in a hospital, you’d be arrested.

  3. Ian says:

    Yes, there is an average, and a range. And your interpretation is?

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