Uned Gobaith (‘Unit of Hope’) is now officially open for referrals. The new interim Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Swansea Bay University Health Board will provide specialist inpatient care to new and expectant mums who experience serious mental health problems.
Since the Cardiff unit closed in November 2013, Wales has been without a MBU. Women in need of inpatient treatment for perinatal mental health problems have either been admitted to acute mental health wards without their babies or have had to travel tens of miles away from family and friends to a MBU in England.
The new six-bed interim unit, based at Tonna Hospital, will finally grant mums in Wales access to specialist care for themselves and their babies much closer to home. Uned Gobaith will also offer accommodation for family members travelling to visit their loved ones.
According to a recent public update from the Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan, to Lynne Neagle MS and Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee the Unit “will provide specialist support in line with the CCQI standards”. A multidisciplinary team will be supporting mothers and their babies on-site, including psychologists, mental health nurses, nursery nurses and psychiatrists, as well as social workers, health visitors and midwives.
Though undoubtedly a positive development for women and families in Wales, the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) has expressed two concerns:
- Women and babies in North Wales still need to travel significant distances to access specialist inpatient support.
- Uned Gobaith has been described by the Minister for Health and Social Services as “an interim solution“.
In her update to Lynne Neagle MS, Eluned Morgan acknowledged and agreed that “further work is needed to ensure that provision is also made available for mothers who live in North Wales” and confirmed that “discussions are being held with NHS England to develop the option of a joint eight bedded Mother and Baby Unit” on the border. She also said that the “Welsh Government will be monitoring the transition to providing perinatal inpatient provision in south Wales to ensure that the unit provides the level of service demanded of it”.
MMHA Everyone’s Business Coordinator for Wales, Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, said:
“The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is delighted to welcome the opening of Uned Gobaith. Having a MBU in Wales will make a significant difference to the lives of women and their families experiencing serious mental health problems. While it has taken some time to get here, it is an important step forward in providing specialist perinatal mental health support that is needed by families in Wales.
“We must however make sure that the next Welsh Government prioritises making this vital provision permanent, and to ensure that MBU provision is also made available for mothers and families who live in North Wales”.
MMHA Everyone’s Business Champion and mum with lived experience, Charlotte, said:
“I understand first-hand how needed this unit is. After the birth of my son, I experienced postpartum psychosis. Without access to a MBU, I faced being admitted to an adult psychiatric ward without my baby. I refused to be separated from him, so my only other option was to be cared for in the community.
“It took me 18 months to recover at home but had the MBU been open it’s possible my condition could have been treated in around 12 weeks. The right mental health support, in the right place and at the right time can make an enormous difference to mums, babies and their families. This is a positive step towards that vision.”
Senedd elections 2021
The MMHA is calling on all parties and candidates to prioritise perinatal mental health during the next Senedd term.
Read the MMHA’s Senedd election 2021 manifesto (available in English and Welsh).