NHS England has just announced funding for a second wave of much needed specialist perinatal (pregnancy and postnatal) mental health community services. This follows the highly successful first wave of funding for 20 NHS areas in December 2016.
The Maternal Mental Health Alliance has been impressed to see the positive impact that the first wave of funding had on the rapid development of new services. These have brought real improvements in high quality specialised care for mums and babies in many parts of England*. Based on that experience, this second wave of funding looks set to give every mother and baby who needs it access to specialist perinatal mental health services that meet national quality standards, wherever they live in England. The Government pledged the necessary funding in 2014, and NHS England has delivered the services, the trained workforce, and the expert support to make this happen.
Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance said: “In over 30 years working for the NHS I have never seen any national programme produce such a rapid, effective and widespread transformation in services. These new, top quality services have led directly to life saving improvements in care for women and babies that will hugely reduce immediate and long term suffering. The new developments announced today in England look set to eliminate a long-standing and serious postcode lottery, and will undoubtably make England the world leader in mental health care for mothers and babies.”
Of course, as a campaigning Alliance we want to ensure these services are permanent, and that even more progress is made, to ensure that all mothers and babies have access to the full range of mental health care care they need. We now call for:
- All CCGs in England to be ready to take over long term commissioning of these specialist perinatal mental health services in line with national quality standards, using the permanent funding they will be given for this purpose.
- Northern Ireland and Scotland governments to put in place plans and resources (as in England and Wales) to ensure women and families across all parts of the UK can access specialist perinatal mental health services wherever and whenever they need them.
- The Welsh Government to enhance funding to perinatal mental health services to allow them to deliver care that meets national standards to mothers and babies throughout Wales.
*Please check out our maps which show where specialist services and gaps currently exist across the UK, and see details of our campaign to ‘Turn the Map Green’ www.maternalmentalhealt