ECT Requires Rigorous Study and Regulation

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From The Guardian Letters: “In her very honest article, Rebecca Lawrence accurately notes that views about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are polarised (ECT’s bad reputation isn’t justified – but we must be upfront about its problems, 13 August). One thing we ought to be able to agree about, though, is the need for safe and properly monitored practice. This does not happen, and a growing number of MPs are supporting our campaign for an independent review into ECT.

It is not widely appreciated that even the minimal standards set out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists are optional, since ECT clinics do not have to be accredited in order to operate.

Furthermore, as we have found, it is almost impossible to hold services to account. The Care Quality Commission does not routinely inspect ECT clinics, does not usually investigate formal complaints, and defers to clinical opinion even in the case of practice that falls well outside official guidelines.

Whatever the claimed merits of ECT for some people, it is clearly unacceptable that this powerful and invasive intervention is effectively unregulated.”

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