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Approved Electroconvulsive (ECT) Therapy Services and ECT Service Approval during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Chief Psychiatrist as per the Mental Health Act 2014(s.544) is responsible for approving a mental health service at which electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be performed.

The Chief Psychiatrist has just completed the three-yearly review of the 11 existing Approved ECT Services in WA. These continue to be Approved ECT Services.

ECT is an essential treatment and at times an emergency life-saving procedure. It must not be considered in the same category as an elective procedure, including during any COVID-19 wave.  Should a significant statewide resource issue become apparent regarding access to ECT related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Psychiatrist will take appropriate steps, within the context of the Mental Health Act (MHA) 2014, to seek to ensure continuity of availability of ECT in Western Australia.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Psychiatrist understands there might, at some point, be a requirement to investigate alternate sites for ECT provision to maintain appropriate infection control and to manage resources while maintaining access.  Consideration has therefore been given as to how to appropriately translate the Chief Psychiatrist’s Practice Standards for the Administration of Electroconvulsive Therapy for the potential purpose of  approving a new ECT service during a COVID wave.

The values and priorities of the Chief Psychiatrist during this time remain the same: ECT facilities must be safe and suitable.

Approved ECT Service

  • ECT must be administered in accordance with the MHA 2014.
  • Only sites approved prospectively by the Chief Psychiatrist may deliver ECT legally in Western Australia.
  • Please note the heavy potential penalties for delivering ECT outside of the MHA 14 approved services.
  • Should there be a significant change to an Approved ECT Suite/Theatre location within a hospital site that was not part of the existing ECT approval process, the service must contact the Chief Psychiatrist before any ECT is delivered in the new location.
  • Should an Approved ECT Suite/Theatre require temporary relocation within the site for the duration of the pandemic, it is important to seek to maintain consistency wherever possible with existing policies and procedures.
  • Statutory ECT reporting must continue.

Request to approve an ECT Service during a COVID wave

  • Enquiries can be directed to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist Authorisations and Approvals Officer at reception@ocp.wa.gov.au or telephone 6553 0000.
  • There are potential gazettal delays ordinarily outside of the remit of the Chief Psychiatrist, but every effort will be made to ensure continuity of access to ECT.

Dr Nathan Gibson
Chief Psychiatrist

 

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