A North Clare elected representative has disputed comments from Mid West Community Healthcare regarding the operation of ECT services in the Mid-West.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most common type of brain stimulation used to treat severe depression. It is used when the depression has not responded to other treatments. During ECT an electric current passes to the brain through electrodes placed on the head. ECT is always carried out under a general anaesthetic in a hospital by a specialist doctor.

At a recent meeting of the Regional Health Forum West, Cllr Susan Crawford (GP) asked for the ECT Centre at Ennis Hospital to be reopened “to support” patients requiring the treatment. “The ECT Suite in University Hospital Limerick ceased ECT in March 2020 and remains closed,” she stated.

Limited access to the theatre at UHL prompted the suspension of ECT, Chief Officer of Mid West Community Healthcare, Maria Bridgeman outlined. She said, “ECT has now resumed and can be provided at UHL if required. Private arrangements were funded by Mid West Mental Health Services for ECT to take place in private hospitals for clients who required the service during the time when ECT was suspended locally”.

“I know this not to be the case,” Cllr Crawford said of the service operation in Limerick. Bridgeman replied, “My understanding is that it is available. Used totally and utterly at the governance of a clinician”.

Cllr Crawford reiterated her remarks that ECT was not available in Unit 5B of UHL. “It is a very specialised service. Access to facility is a challenge under COVID,” Ms Bridgeman added.

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