Brain surgery set to be allowed without patient consent

Campaigners have protested against new legislation to allow
controversial brain surgery without patients’ consent.

Neurosurgery for Mental Disorder (NMD), also called
psychosurgery, involves using a laser to destroy brain tissue. It
is used for a relatively small number of patients suffering some
forms of severe mental illness and there is considerable debate
about its effectiveness. The surgery is irreversible.

At present it is against the law to give NMD unless the patient
has given informed consent. In 1991 the United Nations general
assembly declared that psychosurgery and other intrusive and
irreversible treatments should only be carried out “where the
patient has given informed consent, and an independent external
body has satisfied itself that there is genuine informed

Yet on 1 July new regulations under the Adults with Incapacity
(Scotland) Act 2000 will change the law so that it is possible for
this operation to be performed on someone who is not capable of
consenting, providing the court of session has given its

Richard Norris, policy director of the Scottish Association of
Mental Health, said: “It is surprising that the Scottish executive
has chosen to ignore professional opinion as well as organisations
such as our own, which have consistently campaigned against the
introduction of this measure.”

Between 1990 and 2000, 28 patients received NMD at the unit in
Dundee. SAMH is to urgently press MSPs to oppose the implementation
of the relevant regulations contained in the Adults with Incapacity
(Scotland) Act 2000.





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