HC Deb 28 May 1976 vol 912 cc495-6W
Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will issue advice to NHS hospitals on the use of psychosurgery in the light of the World Health Organisation's report "Health Aspects of Human Rights", which describes such operation as ethically dubious.

Dr. Owen

I would refer my hon. Friend to my replies to his Questions on 21st January—[Vol. 903, c.509–513.]—and to my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) on 27th April. —[Vol. 910, c. 880.] A number of scientific studies, some of them of good quality, are available which bear on the effectiveness and risks of psychosurgery as now performed; from these studies it is clear that there are only a limited number of cases for which this treatment would be considered, but that it has been helpful to some, and with this as with other treatments the consultant must weigh the probable benefits and risks against the benefits and risks of other treatments available in the light of the evidence of such studies and the wishes and condition of the individual patient. I have no plans to issue advice on psychosurgery as such, but we hope later this year to issue a consultative paper on possible changes in the Mental Health Act, which will discuss the ethical question of informed consent of patients, generally and in relation to operations of this sort.

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