Mental health law review proposes end to forced use of ECT
A major review of mental health legislation is to
recommend an end to the practice of administering controversial
electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to patients who are unwilling to give consent
to the treatment.
A Government expert group tasked with reviewing the
Mental Health Act (2001) recently completed its report which is likely to be
published shortly by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch.
It is understood to contain a number of proposals
to strengthen patients’ rights, extend the remit of watchdog bodies and place a
greater emphasis on children’s services.
The current legislation is regarded by many campaigners
as outdated given the growing emphasis on community-based services and demands
for greater autonomy by patient group.
Section59(b) of the Mental Health Act states that forced electroconvulsive therapy may
be administered where a patient is “unable or unwilling” to give consent once
it has been approved by two consultant psychiatrists.
The steering group is expected to
support the deletion of the word “unwilling”.
Children also feature prominently in the report’s proposals, say
sources, and advocate that the needs of young people should be explicitly
recognised in a standalone part of any revised legislation.