On 19 April 2021, the inpatient mother and baby unit (MBU) Uned Gobaith/Unit of Hope opened its doors for the first time to women, babies, and families in Wales affected by severe perinatal mental health problems.
After many years of working alongside other organisations and women and families with lived experience to campaign for an MBU in Wales, the opening of Uned Gobaith marked a significant step forward in ensuring that women needing specialist inpatient support in Wales could access this vital provision closer to home.
At the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), we wanted to mark the one-year anniversary of Uned Gobaith opening and bring to light the difference it has made to women and their families in Wales. We worked in partnership with MMHA member, NSPCC Cymru/Wales, the staff at Uned Gobaith and the Swansea Bay University Health Board to host a two-hour webinar to celebrate all of the hard work and commitment of those working on and with Uned Gobaith.
The event: A Year of Uned Gobaith
We heard from a range of speakers including the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, Buffy Williams, MS, the National Clinical Lead for Perinatal Mental Health, staff members from Uned Gobaith, third sector partners, health visiting, community perinatal mental health services and the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC).
WATCH: A Year of Uned Gobaith event presentations
Presentations focussed on:
- How perinatal mental health services had developed in Wales
- The establishment of Uned Gobaith
- How the service operates
- The amazing support it has provided to mums, partners and babies in its first year.
In addition, the event included powerful accounts from two mums with lived experience of needing inpatient perinatal mental health support in Wales. MMHA Lived Experience Champion, Toni, was left with no choice but to travel almost 200 miles away from home for MBU admission prior to Uned Gobaith being developed in Wales. The second (anonymous) mum talked about her recent positive experience at Uned Gobaith and shared her thoughts and advice for other mums accessing the service.
The message from this mum was clear: Uned Gobaith saved her life.
Testimonies throughout the event paid tribute and thanks to all of those involved in Uned Gobaith for their outstanding work and dedication to supporting women and families during its first year, especially given the unit’s challenges in opening its doors during the height of a pandemic.
Promising commitments from Welsh Government
We also heard from the Welsh Government that they remain dedicated to providing MBU support closer to home for families from North Wales and that perinatal mental health will continue to be a priority in the forthcoming mental health strategy.
“The webinar left me feeling very proud of the progress in Wales and what has been achieved to support women and families experiencing perinatal mental health problems, and it gave me hope for the future and the developments yet to come. But it was also a reminder that the job is not done, that vital gaps remain, and there is more to do to make sure all mums and their families, wherever they live in Wales, can access specialist inpatient perinatal mental health care when they need it.”
– Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Everyone’s Business Campaign Wales Coordinator
We are waiting for the findings from WHSSC’s 12-month review of Uned Gobaith which will determine whether the unit continues to meet all the requirements for a permanent MBU solution in South Wales. The review will be complete by summer 2022 and we will seek clarity on the unit’s next steps, following the report.
It has been almost six years since the Welsh Government committed to ensuring that accessible MBU provision is made available for mothers who live in North Wales. While plans continue between WHSSC and NHS England to develop an eight-bed joint MBU in North West England, which will be accessible from North Wales, we are concerned this is taking too long.
Plans must be taken forward with real urgency and we must see a clear timeline from the Welsh Government for the completion of this vital service.
Our thanks to event co-sponsors: Buffy Williams, MS | Darren Millar, MS | Jane Dodds, MS | Sian Gwenllian, MS