The Mental Health Commission has called for a change to legislation governing the use of electro-convulsive therapy for patients in psychiatric care.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, MHC chairman John Saunders said there has been an increase in the use of ECT, in particular on patients who are unable to give consent or unwilling to receive the treatment.

Mr Saunders said the number of people affected amounts to less than ten.

Currently the legislation allows for two doctors, if in agreement, to prescribe the treatment even if the patient is unwilling.

Mr Saunders said the MHC views this as an infringement of the patient's human rights.

"ECT should be administered with consent and if there are situations where people are unable to give consent, that there's sufficient rules and regulations around that to protect the interests of the patient,” he said.

“What we're really concerned about is a situation where, albeit a small number of people, can in law be forced to have ECT despite their express objection to it."