The health authorities north and south held talks about developing a sophisticated electro shock therapy service for patients with Parkinson’s and depression but the proposal was trumped by the higher priority Altnagelvin radiotherapy centre.
Former Health Minister Simon Hamilton revealed a deep brain stimulation service got to discussion stage but was long-fingered due to other competing demands.
“My Department had preliminary discussions with the Department of Heath, Republic of Ireland, about the potential for developing an all-island deep brain stimulation service,” he said.
“However, this did not progress due to other competing priorities such as developing the congenital cardiac service and the Altnagelvin Radiotherapy Unit to provide services for patients from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,” he added.
“Any future discussions on this matter will need to be taken forward in the context of the relative benefits to the health of patients and other competing service pressures in both jurisdictions, and will be dependent upon available resources. Patients here can currently access this treatment through the Extra Contractual Referral process which provides for circumstances where specialised care cannot be provided within Northern Ireland.”
Deep brain stimulation can be used to treat a variety of mental health and movement disorders.
Whilst less intrusive than its cruder predecessor electoshock therapy or Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) it also involves the stimulation of the brain by electrodes.
A neurostimulator (sometimes referred to as a ‘brain pacemaker’)sends electrical impulses, through implanted electrodes, to affected areas of the brain.