Inquiry call over doctor's work at Broadmoor: Patient 'was held down for shock treatment': Unmodified ECT was used by a Broadmoor doctor years after it was rejected by psychiatrists

COLM BYRNE, who was a student nurse at Broadmoor in 1979, says he saw Dr Loucas give unmodified ECT - ECT given without muscle relaxant or anaesthetic - to a disturbed patient who was being kept in isolation and was behaving violently. A charge nurse had spoken to Dr Loucas about the noise the patient was making.

Mr Byrne helped bring the patient into a room for ECT and to hold him on the bed. He says: 'Dr Loucas came in, applied the electrodes and gave him the shock. Although there were four of us holding him down, holding his hips and his shoulders, his back arched and he rose about six inches off the bed and he seemed to be in a great deal of pain.'

When Dr Loucas saw that Mr Byrne was 'visibly shocked', he told him: 'What we're seeing here, Student Nurse Byrne, is the use of ECT in an emergency.'

Twenty-Twenty Television, which made 'Special Treatment', the Cutting Edge programme, has spoken to a nurse who was on the ward that day who confirmed Mr Byrne's account. The nurse does not consider that there was any emergency.

The programme makers have also obtained a signed statement from a patient, Roger Packham, who was given unmodified ECT by Dr Loucas. Mr Packham said: 'Dr Loucas got the staff to hold me down and then he would shout 'let go' at the last minute and throw the switch. The straight ECT hurts a lot for a second after they throw the switch. It scrambles your brains and for days you can't remember anything. I had 17 lots of ECT like this.'

Mr Packham, who is now in Ashworth Hospital, Merseyside, also said he was kept in a 'strip room' which had no furniture other than a mattress on the floor and a bucket. 'The window was covered by wooden boards, so no light came in. I was kept in this room for 24 hours a day. I was in there from 1980 to 1982.'

Mr Byrne says he was interviewed by two senior officials from the Department of Health and Social Security in September 1979, after speaking publicly about the use of unmodified ECT and assaults he had witnessed by nurses on patients.

Mr Byrne and the nurse who backed up his account also gave a sworn statement to the mental health charity, Mind.

According to press reports at the time, the Department of Health and Social Security declined to comment because the allegations were the subject of a police investigation, but it added: 'The Secretary of State is aware of the allegations.'

Later the DHSS said it would not hold an inquiry into the use of unmodified ECT at Broadmoor. Patrick Jenkin, then the Secretary of State, said: 'The choice of drugs and the dosage and the application of any medical treatment is essentially a matter for the professional clinical judgement of the doctor.

'Unless there is prima facie evidence of substantial professional misconduct or malpractice (as distinct from generalised ill-defined allegations or complaints) management ought not to seek to concern itself in such matters as clinical judgement.'

A debate raged in the medical and national press about whether unmodified ECT should ever be used. Anthony Clare, then of the Institute of Psychiatry, and Larry Gostin, then legal director of Mind, quoted a letter written by Desmond Pond, then president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which concluded: 'By and large, unmodified ECT is not acceptable and any psychiatrist who does it would find it hard to justify his action with his peers.'

The Lancet, the medical journal, said Professor Pond's letter suggested some circumstances in which unmodified ECT might be given: where anaesthetic was medically contra-indicated in a patient in urgent need of ECT, or where an anaesthetist was not available when a patient urgently needed ECT.

The Lancet editorial concluded that: 'It is difficult to imagine the circumstances in which ECT could be administered to a recalcitrant patient and yet an intramuscular injection of a major tranquilliser was impossible.'

Ten psychiatrists, including Dr Clare, wrote to the British Medical Journal, saying that further use of umodified ECT was indefensible.

Dr Donald Johnson, a consultant psychiatrist in Manchester, says that in common clinical practice, unmodified ECT was no longer used by the 1960s. In tonight's programme he says: 'After 1960 at the very latest, it would be totally unjustified to use unmodified ECT in any circumstances.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence