Press Release

Minister Kathleen Lynch confirms change to law regarding the administration of ECT

Ms Kathleen Lynch T.D., Minister for Primary Care, Social Care (Disabilities & Older People) and Mental Health has confirmed today (Monday 15 February 2015) that the recent amendment to mental health legislation regarding the administration of Electro-convulsive Therapy (ECT) to patients involuntarily admitted to psychiatric hospitals has now been signed into law. The change will take place from today.

The Mental Health (Amendment) Act 2015 was passed by the Oireachtas and signed into law by the President at the end of December. This new Act provides that in future where a patient admitted involuntarily under the Mental Health Act 2001 has capacity and refuses ECT, that patient’s wishes will be respected. Section 60 of the Act has also been amended to ensure that a person with capacity will also have his/her right of refusal of the administration of medicine over three months respected.

In welcoming the commencement of these important changes, Minister Lynch said, ‘The changes to law coming into force today will end the practice of forcing involuntary patients with capacity to take certain treatments when they are unwilling to do so. This is a significant change and is in line with the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. It puts power back in the hands of the individual and represents the first of many changes to the current Mental Health Act 2001 which arises out of the review of the Act which I established on taking office.’