The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has released a report with 11 recommendations to improve the provision of specialist community perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland. The Everyones Business campaign is delighted to see the recommendations work towards the campaign’s Call to Act and is keen to see how and when they will be implemented.
Theresa Nixon, RQIA’s Mental Health Director says
‘RQIA recommends that specialist perinatal mental health services – with psychological input – should be developed in each trust, and a single regional Mother and Baby Unit should be established’
Below are the recommendations – with varying priorities:
Recommendation 1 Priority 2
The HSC Board must ensure that each HSC trust provides a perinatal clinical psychology service for their maternity hospitals and neonatal intensive care units.
Recommendation 2 Priority 1
In the absence of a mother and baby unit, HSC trusts should provide appropriate equipment and facilities within all relevant general adult psychiatric inpatient units to meet the needs of a mother and her baby and older children during visits.
Recommendation 3 Priority 3
The HSC Board should work with HSC trusts to develop a coding system to capture and report on statistical information to inform the future requirements for perinatal mental health services.
Recommendation 4 Priority 1
The Department of Health should request the Public Health Agency to establish a regional group to examine and develop perinatal mental health services with agreed terms of reference and timelines. The delivery and implementation of a work plan by this group should be monitored by the Maternity Strategy Implementation Group, and the Department of Health.
Recommendation 5 Priority 2
The HSC Board should ensure that community based peer support services are developed within an overall plan for specialist perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland in collaboration with relevant voluntary organisations and Sure Start.
Recommendation 6 Priority 1
Each HSC trust should review the communication protocols in place between primary and secondary care to ensure effective communication and information sharing.
Recommendation 7 Priority 1
The Public Health Agency should work collaboratively with the HSC Board to ensure that all General Practitioners are made fully aware of the revised Integrated Perinatal Mental Health Care Pathway and of the voluntary and community organisations who can offer support to woman experiencing perinatal mental health in their locality.
Recommendation 8 Priority 1
In the absence currently of a specialist perinatal mental health service, each HSC trust must ensure appropriate staff receive additional training in understanding the distinctive features and risks of perinatal mental illness.
Recommendation 9 Priority 1
The Department of Health should work collaboratively with all key stakeholders including the Public Health Agency, HSC Trusts, General Practitioners and service users to develop and progress a model for the development of specialist perinatal mental health teams in each HSC trust.
Recommendation 10 Priority 3
The Department of Health should work collaboratively with all key stakeholders to develop and progress a model for a single regional Mother and Baby Unit in Northern Ireland.
Recommendation 11 Priority 1
Key decision makers should visit both specialist teams and a Mother and Baby Unit within the United Kingdom before making any decision on the future provision of perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland.
Tom McEneaney from mental health charity Aware welcomed the RQIA report and recommendations:
“I think it is particularly important because the RQIA spent a lot of time listening to service users and really seems to have taken their comments on board. The important thing now is that we work to make sure these recommendations are implemented.”
Click here to read the full RQIA report
Click here to read the RQIA press release calling for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services Across Northern Ireland.