Are you ready for wave 2 of the perinatal health community service development fund?
Read our top tips for preparing your bid and securing your slice of the new funding, written by Dr Alain Gregoire, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chair of the MMHA.
NHS England will be launching wave 2 of the perinatal mental health community service development fund. This is the second opportunity for local services, working in partnership, to get their hands on a slice of the new, recurrent money provided by the government for the development of specialist perinatal mental health services.
The fund will be administered by Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs) to enable early investment into:
- new specialist community teams where none exist or
- an expansion of existing specialist community teams into a neighbouring area where none exist or
- enhancing existing teams to bring them up to national standards
More detailed information on this funding will be issued soon, but it will differ little from wave 1, so getting as much preparation as possible done now would be sensible.
This is a wonderful opportunity for local partners to create or develop a specialist community team. More than 40% of areas in the UK have no specialist community perinatal mental health team, and those that do often fail to reach national standards. In this tight financial climate, additional funding will support areas committed to a good, safe NHS for women and babies to deliver the care they need.
Based on experience from supporting areas with wave 1 and wave 2 applications and evaluating applications that were submitted in wave 1, here are six top tips for those putting together an application.
- Follow the guidance carefully
It sounds obvious, but it’s important. NHS England published clear guidance for wave 1 applicants and there are quite precise expectations for the type of service that will be created: the funding must be for specialist community perinatal mental health services, meeting national quality standards set out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Guidance from the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health and NICE. NB: this funding is for the staff working in Specialist Perinatal Community Teams. It is NOT for link staff such as specialist mental health midwives and health visitors, who will function primarily within maternity and health visiting services, and need to be funded and employed by those services.
- Consider your reach
Ideally, to have a population large enough to justify a meaningful team, you’ll need a birth population of between 6000 and 15000 births. This is likely to mean that a number of CCGs need to work together and to consider a manageable location and geography for the new service. Eventually, you might expect to see around 300/400 women per 10,000 deliveries, but the service will build up to this gradually so you will need to consider earlier targets (eg. 30% in year 1, 50% in year 2 etc).
- Work in partnership
Bids must demonstrate the involvement and agreement from key local partners, including maternity and health visiting services, mental health providers, the local Strategic Clinical Networks and the nearest Mother and Baby Unit. You must also include local perinatal mental health experts by experience and ideally a local perinatal mental health peer support organisation in the development of your proposal. If the latter doesn’t seem to exist locally, describe how you plan to support the development of one.
- Consider how to develop specialist expertise
Newly recruited staff will not necessarily have specialist perinatal skills so consider the time, training and experience they will need. This might involve, for example, two days training with an expert, followed by secondment to a nearby service for four to eight weeks part-time. If your chosen service provider does not already deliver specialist perinatal services, it will be important to demonstrate partnership with another specialist service that can offer training, advice, mentoring and secondment posts and include these costs in the bid. You must address specialist knowledge, skills, and confidence (all staff will need to be specialists, able to advise others) in perinatal mental health, as well as teaching/training skills, and leadership where appropriate.
- Agree a realistic phased approach to the development of the service
This might include phased introduction of different staff roles, service functions and/or geographical coverage. The priority for any new service should be the recruitment of a Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist, team manager and high quality Community Mental Health Nurse, all with dedicated admin support. This guidance from the Royal College of Psychiatrists sets out the staffing required in a team when it is fully up and running
NB: a) do not neglect the need for perinatal mental health nursery nurses and b) more recent experience suggests that psychologist and admin time may be underestimated.
- Consider quality
Your bid must set out how the service will adhere to and audit NICE Guidance and Perinatal Quality Network community team standards. The team must join and actively participate in the Perinatal Quality Network. There will be costs involved in this (eg. membership fee, travel for staff to attend annual forum and peer reviews), which should be included in your bid.
Finally, the bid must include an annual training budget so all staff can have a mandatory rolling programme of updating and training.
We hope that these tips are helpful for anyone developing an application for the development fund. All the resources and references you need can be found on the MMHA website, including a link to BP8: perinatal clinical psychology staffing for community services. . If there is anything you think you need that is not there please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.