ECT without consent in England: the highest users

Non-consenting patients make up an increasing proportion of people treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in England. Most, though not all, of the people given ECT without their consent are treated under section 58A of the Mental Health Act. The patient has to be assessed as lacking capacity to make a decision about treatment, and the treatment approved by a psychiatrist from the Care Quality Commission panel.

Last year (April 2016/March 2017) the Care Quality Commission received 2,261 requests for a visit from one of their psychiatrists to approve the use of ECT on a patient who was not consenting to treatment. The number of requests does not equate to the number of people treated without their consent: some requests may be cancelled, sometimes (very rarely) the psychiatrist does not authorise ECT, and more than one request may be made for the same person during the year; on the other hand there are other ways to treat people without their consent, for example, under section 62 of the Mental Health Act or under the provisions of common law.

In 2016/17 two NHS trusts in England made more than 100 requests for a visit from a Care Quality Commission psychiatrist to approve the use of ECT without consent under section 58. They were Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (116 requests) and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (106 requests).

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust treated 143 people with ECT in 2016/17, of whom nearly half (68) lacked capacity to consent. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust meanwhile treated 176 people with ECT and were not able to say how many had not consented to treatment.

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3 Responses to ECT without consent in England: the highest users

  1. Two trusts, not that far apart geographically? Coincidence, or not, do you reckon? I cant believe that area has that many more issues than the rest of the country, surely?

  2. cherylprax says:

    It is down to the psychiatrist in charge. You can find that numbers can reduce rapidly when a major ECT player retires.

  3. markps2 says:

    Elsie Tindle electroshock. UK Mirror, March 2016: “Woman Died After NHS Electric Shock Therapy Was Given Without Consent or Second Opinion”
    Senior Coroner Derek Winter, expressed concern to the UK Health Secretary about the circumstances that resulted in the death of a mentally ill woman after she was subjected to Electroshock without her consent. UK law requires (since 1983) a second medical opinion before this extreme treatment may be applied; but no doctor provided a second opinion.

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