Ministers in U-turn on shock therapy

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Indy Politics

A government U-turn tomorrow will herald huge improvements in mental- health treatment for young people. In a series of compromise changes to its controversial Mental Health Bill, the Government will curb the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on teenagers and ensure they do not have to share wards with adults, who are often disturbed and dangerous.

As the Bill reaches a crunch phase in the Commons, amendments will mean no child under 18 will be givenECT without a second opinion from a doctor. Children must also be treated in an environment appropriate for their age.

The U-turns follow criticism from a powerful coalition of mental health charities, psychiatrists, MPs and peers, who tore apart the Bill with a series of amendments. The Independent on Sunday has highlighted opposition to the Bill for five years.

Ministers are said to be ready for a "dog fight" over parts of the Bill they refused to compromise on, such as the definition of mental illness. The Mental Health Alliance welcomed the changes but said the Bill was still "not fit for the 21st century".