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1979-1987 - Mr Major’s Written Question on Electro-Convulsive Therapy Equipment

Below is the text of Mr Major’s Parliamentary written question on Electro-Convulsive Therapy Equipment, published on 10th May 1982.


Mr. Major Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the report of his Department's working group on electro-convulsive therapy equipment is to be published.

Mr. Fowler The working group, which I set up on 17 November 1981, the day on which the Royal College of Psychiatrists' report on ECT was published, has now produced its report. This considers matters relating to suitability, safety and maintenance of ECT equipment in the NHS in England and Wales.

The working group has recommended the replacement of certain types of ECT equipment in the NHS, in three phases, and has provided information about models currently available for consideration as replacements. Attention is drawn to the role of the manufacturer in maintenance, and the need for inspection and testing of all ECT equipment is also emphasised.

The Report identifies four types of equipment, of which there are currently altogether about 40 sets in NHS hospitals, which should be replaced immediately because they do not produce the required stimulus, there are no adequate manufacturers' supporting services for them and because of the inferiority of their design.

It recommends the replacement of a further 100 sets of equipment, of one type, within a year, but suggests that these should be checked by a technically-competent person to see if any modification is required while they continue in use.

The third phase involves approximately 110 sets of equipment, of five types, which, though considered safe, should be regularly checked and replaced by better designed models within normal equipment replacement schedules.

I am circulating the working group's report to all health authorities with a request that they urgently review their ECT equipment and carry out a programme of phased replacement, as necessary, along the lines recommended by the working group. I understand that my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales are taking similar action, in Scotland and Wales.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Library of the House.