The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has just published their annual report on the monitoring of the Mental Health Act. The report covers the period April 2012 to March 2013 and shows that a record number of people, over 50,000, were detained under the Act.
There was also an increase in the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) without consent over previous years. There were 1,464 completed visits from the CQC approved psychiatrists who authorise the use of ECT on patients who are deemed to be incapable of consenting – an increase of about 20 per cent over the previous year. Since only about one-and-a-half per cent of visits result in a “significant change” to the treatment plan (which may or may not mean that ECT is not authorised), that figure represents approximately the number of people actually treated.
The report gives no details about the people who receive ECT without their consent: no details of their age, their sex, whether or not they were objecting to the treatment, or whether or not the ECT course had been started before the visit from the CQC (something that had happened for about a quarter of the patients according to a previous CQC annual report).
Over the past 30 years the use of ECT on consenting patients in England has decreased by about 80 per cent. But its use on people who are deemed unable to consent has not shown a significant decrease.