NHS England launched the Long Term Plan in 2019 which set additional goals for expanding and developing specialist PMH services to be delivered by 2023/4.
These ambitions to expand specialist PMH services are welcome. They demonstrate a clear commitment at the national level to respond to the needs of women, babies, and families. Specialist PMH teams have been working hard, to try and deliver the ambitions, however the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been considerable, delaying progress in the development of teams, which is likely to lead to an ongoing delay and reducing the number of women and babies who could be cared for, with hopefully only a temporary effect.
The impact of this delay means less women, babies and families have been able to access life-saving specialist PMH care.
of specialist PMH services are seeing increasing number of women, including those with complex PTSD/ personality disorder diagnosis
of services are already providing specialist PMH care from pre-conception up to 24 months after birth (previously 12 months)
of services are already offering fathers/partners mental health assessments and signpost to support, where needed
of specialist PMH services are already offering sufficient psychological therapies including parent-infant, couple, coparenting and family interventions
Whilst significant progress has been achieved, ongoing work to deliver the Long Term Plan ambitions means continued commitment is needed to ensure real change for women and families.
All areas of England have been allocated money from NHS England specifically for specialist PMH services to help deliver Long Term Plan ambitions. However, at the local level, some of this is being diverted away from mother and baby mental healthcare.
With this work ongoing, it is crucial that specialist PMH teams are given all the resources intended to help them meet these targets, and deliver care to the women, babies and families who are waiting for it.
Unsurprisingly, given the funding and recruitment challenges, work to deliver other Long Term Plan targets is ongoing.See the Long Term Plan maps