The Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s (MMHA) Everyone’s Business campaign welcomes today’s announcement from NHS England about the opening of specialist perinatal mental health services in the remaining areas of England, meaning women should now be able to access life-saving care in their local area.
Investment from NHS England (£365 million investment was announced in 2016) has enabled more women and families across the country to be able to access essential specialist perinatal services.
From this month (April 2019), the funding from NHS England changes, so instead of areas having to bid for money from the Community Development Fund, all Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (CCGs) will receive money into their baseline budgets.
The intention is for this money to sustain and increase the specialist perinatal mental services available in local areas, but it will not be ringfenced. Therefore, there is a risk at the local level that these essential perinatal mental health funds could be diverted to support other services, such as A&E.
NHS England have set up several monitoring and reporting procedures to help ensure investment in perinatal mental health. All CCGs will have to report on their perinatal mental health spend and be expected to meet the required standard of funding for mental health and deliver the requirements set out in the Five Year Forward View.
These measures are welcome, but it is vital that we continue to monitor and hold local areas to account, so that CCGs maintain investment in perinatal services. Women and families need to know that once specialist services are established in their area, funding for them is sustainable and will not disappear.
The MMHA shall continue to work closely with NHS England to ensure perinatal services are of the highest quality, with a well-trained workforce, to continue to meet the needs of the women and families who depend on them.