Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a small, very specialist service offered in two locations in AWP by our highly trained, expert team.

What is ECT and who is it for?

ECT works by passing an electric current through the brain under general anaesthetic. It is offered to only a very small number of people and is only given after a stringent consent process during which the person and their family are informed in detail about the procedure, the potential benefits and the potential risks.

Benefits of ECT can be very significant with some people attributing it to saving their lives. However because there are associated risks it is only considered in a specific set of circumstances:

  • If a person has a condition specified in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for ECT (severe depression, mania or catatonia).
  • If that person is so severely unwell that there is an extreme impact on, or risk to, their life.
  • If they have not responded to other treatment options.

Examples of situations in which ECT might be discussed as a treatment option are if a person is so severely depressed that they are no longer able to eat or drink and their life is in danger, or in extreme cases of postnatal depression where a mother is unable to care for or bond with her baby to the point where their future together is at risk.

ECT is offered as part of a wider package of care. One of the main benefits can be a significant short term improvement in the persons mental health that enables them to respond to other forms of treatment such as medication, psychological therapies, or a combination of both.

Our ECT service

Our two modern, specifically-designed ECT suites are at Callington Road Hospital in Bristol and at Green Lane Hospital in Devizes.

Our ECT service is fully compliant with the NICE guidelines for ECT and both locations have been accredited three times under the Royal College of Psychiatry's exacting ECT accreditation scheme (ECTAS).

Electro-convulsive therapy services

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