Compulsory electroconvulsive therapy to be outlawed

Kathleen Lynch tells Newstalk the government plan to ban compulsory use of treatment

The Dáil will begin efforts to outlaw compulsory electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Ireland.

Currently doctors can administer ECT to a patient regardless of whether or not the patient agrees to the procedure.

Kathleen Lynch, the Minister for Mental Health, has said her department has now secured Dáil time to have that removed from our laws on Tuesday, December 8.

The law currently allows for two consultant psychiatrists to authorise a course of ECT to a patient who has been involuntarily admitted for treatment. Even if the patient refuses the treatment it can still be administered.

The amended act will remove the word ‘unwilling’ from section 59 of the Mental Health Act 2001.

Ms Lynch has said she wants patient's wishes respected. Speaking to The Right Hook, she said: “Up to this point people are still quite amazed that even if I have the capacity to say no, no I don’t want that, as you would with any other treatment, it is still possible to administer that treatment to the person who doesn’t want it, whether they like it or not.

“We’re going to remove that option,” she added.

Following the changes “it will be illegal” to administer ECT to a person who refuses it, Ms Lynch said.

“If that person has capacity and that person says, ‘no, I don’t want this’ it will be illegal to administer it.”