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ECT often given without consent, mainly to women

14 August 2006

ECT often given without consent, mainly to women

The government needs to explain why twice as many women as men are being administered Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT); and why up to half of these treatments are being given without consent in some parts of New Zealand, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

Ms Kedgley was commenting on the annual statistics for Electro-Convulsive Therapy released by the Ministry of Health yesterday,.which show that 69% of ECT patients were women. Far more patients are administered the controversial treatment in some districts such as Canterbury than elsewhere in New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley said she was alarmed that in some District Health Boards, up to 68% of ECT treatments were given without the patient's consent. "We need an explanation from Tairawhiti, Canterbury and Auckland District Health Boards as to why over half of the ECT treatments they administer are given without consent. What on earth is going on here?" Ms Kedgley says.

"It appears from the statistics that ECT is being administered differently, in different parts of the country. ECT is a hugely controversial therapy which can cause permanent memory loss and other serious adverse effects, and this is totally unsatisfactory. It is time the Government stepped in and developed strict clinical guidelines around the use of ECT, to ensure it is only ever used as a therapy of last resort."

"There is a wide variation in the number of courses of treatment in different DHBs. No attempt has even been made to explain the regional variations in ECT use in different parts of the country. National clinical guidelines and rules that apply to all New Zealanders are urgently needed, instead of just leaving it up to individual DHB's to decide how to administer such a controversial treatment," Ms Kedgley says.


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