Changes to Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) services

CWP provides Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) services to a very small number of patients across Wirral, West Cheshire and East Cheshire.

What is ECT?
ECT is a treatment for a small number of severe mental illnesses. An electrical current is passed through the brain to produce an epileptic fit – hence the name, electro-convulsive. The idea developed in the days before effective medication. Doctors noticed that some people with depression or schizophrenia, who also had epilepsy, seemed to feel better after having a fit. More recent research suggests that the effect is due to the fit rather than the electrical current.

People can receive treatment as an inpatient or an outpatient. The number of people receiving ECT services has reduced dramatically since the 1980s and it is only used to treat severe mental health conditions, such as severe depression, mania and catatonia.

How is ECT currently provided?
This service is currently available in Springview Hospital (Clatterbridge, Wirral), Bowmere Hospital (Chester) and the Millbrook Unit (Macclesfield). Two ECT clinics operate each week on each site. NICE guidelines recommend patients have up to 12 sessions over a period of six weeks. This equates to an average of 12 patients being treated at any one time across Wirral, West Cheshire and East Cheshire.

What changes are being proposed?
The Trust is proposing to make changes to the way it provides ECT by creating a centre of excellence in Bowmere Hospital, Chester and cease providing treatment at Springview Hospital, Wirral.

What would this mean for me?

Inpatients from West Cheshire and Wirral – If you require an inpatient admission and ECT treatment, you would, where possible be primarily admitted to Bowmere Hospital, Chester to allow easy access to the specialist ECT suite and recovery area.

Outpatients from Wirral– If you are currently receiving ECT treatment as an outpatient, you would continue to attend your closest metal health unit as normal (Springview Hospital) where you would be transferred to Bowmere Hospital to receive your treatment. On completion of treatment and the required recovery time, you would be transferred back to Springview Hospital for your onward journey home. Future patients would need to attend Bowmere Hospital directly for outpatient care.

Outpatients from West Cheshire - There are no changes proposed and outpatient ECT appointments would continue as normal.

Inpatients and outpatients from Eastern and South Cheshire – A consultation on the redesign of adult and older people’s mental health services in Eastern and South Cheshire, including ECT services is planned for later this year. Any changes as a result of this consultation will be communicated at a later date and ECT services will continue as normal until this time.

Why are these changes being proposed?
CWP wants to build a centre of excellence which allows us to pool ECT expertise and resources. This will help us to sustain a safe and high quality service for our communities including reducing the current reliance on bank/temporary staffing and diverting resources away from our acute inpatient wards.

The ECT centre of excellence will also strive to meet the standards set out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) by becoming an ECTAS accredited site.

We also want to improve the experience of people accessing our ECT services and are looking to invest in our post-recovery facilities to make them more comfortable and suited to our patients’ needs.

How can I share my views and experiences?
CWP is keen to involve you in this process and listen to your views and experiences of ECT, as a service user, carer or member of the public.

Please click here to take part in our engagement survey and express an interest in taking part in future workshops.

Where can I get more information?
If you are a current CWP service user or carer, please contact your Care Coordinator or alternatively, please contact:

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Post:  PALS Officer           
           PALS, Complaints and Incidents Team
           Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
           Countess of Chester Health Park
           Liverpool Road
           CH2 1BQ

Freephone: 0800 195 4462


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