A National Assembly for Wales committee has released a series of recommendations to improve perinatal mental health care across Wales, including the re-opening of a Mother and Baby Unit.
The Children, Young People and Education Committee, which is made up of Assembly Members from across the political spectrum, began an inquiry into perinatal mental health in March 2017 in recognition of the impact parental mental health can have on children’s health and development.
During the inquiry, the Committee heard evidence from a range of organisations and individuals, including the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, members of the third sector such as NSPCC Wales and APP, healthcare professionals and women who have experienced perinatal mental illnesses in the past.
The Committee welcomed Welsh Government’s recent investment of £1.5million in specialist community services as a significant step forward, but expressed the need to see this as a starting point, with more investment required to bring services in-line with national quality standards.
Re-establishing a Mother and Baby Unit based along the M4 corridor in south Wales is one of the key recommendations, as is a call for Welsh Government to engage with NHS England to discuss options for establishing a unit in north east Wales to serve women and their families on both sides of the border.
Other recommendations include establishing a managed clinical network to provide national leadership for further development of services and training, working with relevant bodies to ensure that perinatal mental health is included training and continuing professional development for health professionals, and undertaking a public awareness campaign to improve understanding of perinatal mental health conditions and their symptoms.
Reacting to the report, Professor Ian Jones, who provided evidence on behalf of the Alliance, said: “We welcome these recommendations, and look forward to hearing the response of Welsh Government within the next six weeks. Re-establishing a Mother and Baby Unit should be a priority, and I’m pleased to see there’s also acknowledgement that of the need to collect more robust data to measure demand for inpatient care.
“The Committee is right to praise Welsh Government for investing in specialist community services, and equally correct to highlight the disparity in services between the health board areas in Wales.
“We are currently working with colleagues at NSPCC Wales, the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH), Mind Cymru and the Mental Health Foundation to evaluate these services. I hope our findings will help Welsh Government allocate additional funding to address this issue and provide women and their families with the services they deserve, wherever they live.”
You can read the report and its recommendations here.