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Electro-Convulsive Therapy

Volume 13: debated on Friday 27 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is the extent to which obsolete equipment for electro-convulsive therapy is or has been used in the East Anglian regional health authority; and whether any steps will be taken to scrap such obsolete equipment;(2) whether the proposed working party will review all matters relating to electro-convulsive therapy in the East Anglian area health authority when it undertakes its inquiry;(3) what percentage of medical personnel administering electro-convulsive therapy in the East Anglian area health authority has the required level of qualifications.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently published a research report "ECT Treatment in Great Britain, 1980". In the research, a sample of 165 units administering ECT were visited; in the 13 units visited in the north east Thames and East Anglia health regions (they were not identified separately), seven of the main ECT machines (54 per cent. of their machines in use) and six of the reserve (46 per cent.) were obsolete. More precise information about ECT equipment in specific places is not held centrally.Similarly the qualification of medical personnel administering ECT is not known centrally. The hon. Member may wish to take up such specific matters with the East Anglia regional health authority.The working party we have set up will consider matters relating to suitability, safety and maintenance of ECT machines on a broad basis: it will not be possible to examine the machines in each region. Its report will be made available to health authorities who, in the meantime, will no doubt be reviewing their own facilities.The Royal College of Psychiatrists has itself established a special committee to consider professional practice in the administration of ECT and the Department will keep in touch with its work.