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NHS England allocates £40m to improve mental health care for pregnant women

NHS England allocates £40m to improve mental health care for pregnant women

Eight clinical commissioning groups, 12 trusts and one STP are set to receive £40m from NHS England to fund better mental health care for pregnant women
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Eight clinical commissioning groups, 12 trusts and one STP are set to receive £40m from NHS England to fund better mental health care for pregnant women.

The additional funding will allow the organisations to work in partnership with other areas to fund specialist community mental health services for mothers before and after birth, and help reach 30,000 more women a year by 2021.

Bristol CCG, for example will work in partnership across three CCGs to expand a recently established small team into a wider area, introduce new electronic records across different organisations’ systems, and develop community support groups as well as buddying and telephone support from women who have experienced similar issues.

The funding will see new or bigger teams providing specialist care for all new and expectant mothers with severe mental ill health like severe post-natal depression.

It will fund new perinatal consultants, specialist nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists and nursery nurses as well as community peer support for mums, babies and families.

There will also be more buddying and telephone support where mums who have had experience of similar issues help other mums in need.

One in five women experience depression, anxiety or in some cases psychosis during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth and costs of perinatal mental ill health are estimated at £8.1 billion each year in the UK, almost £10,000 per birth.

But fewer than 15% of localities currently provide effective services for women with severe or complex perinatal mental health conditions, and more than 40% provide no service at all.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive said: "For most parents having a baby is one of the happiest times of your life. But for tens of thousands of new mums, this experience is sadly overshadowed by severe pregnancy-related mental health problems. Now the NHS is taking concrete action to get these mothers and families the specialist mental health support they need."

“It is also the case that many other patients with mental health crises end up using A&E services as their first port of call, so today we are kick-starting the programme to expand the seven day availability of specialist psychiatrist and mental health staff in our major A&Es.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Patients in crisis, and expectant and new mothers who are suffering from severe mental health problems need urgent support and care.

“So this investment is fantastic news and will help make sure patients get the care they need, when they need it. As the Prime Minister has made clear, this Government is determined to address the struggles faced by people with mental ill health.”

NHS England plans to release a further £20m next year.

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