"My brother is being coerced into having ECT"

About: Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust / Inpatient mental health care

(as a relative),

My older brother has resistant schizophrenia and is at Prestwich medium secure inpatient unit under section. He has been in mental health units for the past 17 years. I am not happy with the way he is treated and neither is he. He is being pressured into having ECT when he and I feel adamantly that he shouldn’t have it. There are serious side effects for some people including heart problems, insomnia, memory problems and worst of all, brain damage in some cases. I appreciate that he is sectioned but his wishes should be respected just the same and he should be treated with respect. He is co-operative and compliant but hasn’t had any leave for a long time. He can’t even come home to see his family.

I feel that he is being coerced into ECT, he is certainly not being offered a choice of treatment and the way things are being explained to him make it seem to him like he has no choice and is unable to refuse ECT. I think this is wrong. His consultant psychiatrist has a lot of power and it seems to me that he is not using his position to help like he should because he seems to be ignoring my brother’s wishes and forcing him to have ECT.

Advocates and IMHA’s are not well advertised and I have never known him be offered anyone with him when he has his appointments. We, as his family, have very little to do with his care, in fact I have been banned from seeing him for five months as they suspect I have been taking him drugs and getting him to take liquids prior to his ECT sessions. I don’t know how they think I could do that – his food is always searched and monitored and there is very close supervision during my visits. I feel like they barred me because I voiced concerns about ECT that they didn’t want to hear or deal with. Surely they should work with me not against me as his next of kin? I spoke the Royal Courts of Justice to try to request that they stop the unit from forcing ECT on him and I don’t think the unit appreciated me doing that but what option did I have?

I have spoken to PALS and found them to be of no use whatsoever in this case. According to them this is an ongoing issue so they won’t deal with my concerns. I see no excuse for that answer. My concerns are valid and important whether they are ongoing or not. According to the NICE guidelines he has the right to say no to ECT and the doctor should explain everything and inform him that he can refuse. The doctor has not done this as far as I am aware. I have suggested that he take a new drug that patients say is tolerable and is supposed to work but what I suggest seems to makes no difference now.

His care has generally been ok, but most of the staff seem to have a problem with him. He is challenging and can be difficult but he should still be treated well. He gets on very well with the ward manager, they have a good relationship and I’m glad he has him. My brothers care and problems with being pressured into having ECT have elevated my conditions and caused me lots of stress. I just want the staff to respect him and his wishes. I want them to take the views of his family seriously and I would like him to have leave so that he can be away from there sometimes. The last time my brother refused ECT on the day the session was booked, privileges were taken from him and he was secluded for a short time. This isn’t right. In my opinion, the unit tell him that he could be moved to Ashworth high secure unit if he continues to refuse ECT in a threatening way.

This is unacceptable, I am his sister, I care for him and have his health at heart, I shouldn’t be ignored, banned and treated like a trouble maker. I want the best for him.

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