Friday, 7 November 2014

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The current legislation is regarded by many campaigners as outdated given the growing emphasis on community-based services and demands for greater autonomy by patient group.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.

It is likely to propose a set of guiding principles which reflect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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