The Scandal

Between 1963 and 1979, Doctors in Chelmsford Private Hospital in north west Sydney, led by Dr Harry Bailey, were performing a type of psychiatric treatment known as Deep Sleep Therapy, as well as Electroconvulsive Therapy, in order to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, PMS, anorexia, alcoholism, drug addiction and even obesity (Geason 2007). These treatments and their consequences branded Chelmsford Hospital as one of the most notorious mental health hospitals of the 20th century, and Dr Harry Bailey remained central in this scandal.

Deep Sleep Therapy
Deep Sleep Therapy, or DST as it is abbreviated, was carried out by administering large doses of barbiturates, tranquilisers or sedatives to patients, thereby inducing a state of unconsciousness that would be maintained for several weeks. It was theorised that such a treatment could “rewire” a patient’s brain, and thus cure them from their problem. This treatment often went in conjunction with electroconvulsive shock treatment (ECT), mostly done without permission or muscle relaxants (Geason 2007). As a consequence of these treatments, patients often left the hospital with other problems than those they had wanted assistance for, with many individuals still suffering long-term effects from their time at Chelmsford Hospital. Fatalities would also occur at a death average of about one or two a year, with a total of 27 individuals dying as a direct result of the deep sleep therapy and 24 others committing suicide following the treatment or due to it (Wilson 2003: 122) (Bromberger and Fife-Yeomans 1991).