29 Feb 2016
Women in Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow will have better access to mental health care during pregnancy and after birth thanks to a new £1 million investment in perinatal mental health services at West London Mental Health Trust, commissioned by the clinical commissioning groups.
Mental health problems are common during pregnancy and the post-natal period. A recent national report into the causes of maternal deaths found that significant progress has been made in addressing physical causes of death but more work is needed to prevent deaths from serious mental illness. The 2015 Report of the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the UK found that there is a need for better access to specialist mental health care for pregnant women and new mothers, better information sharing between services and better recognition of the warning signs of mental health problems.
Dr Sara Taha, perinatal consultant psychiatrist at West London Mental Health NHS Trust explains: “Mental health problems in pregnancy and after a baby are common and affect up to 20% of women. It is important that services give equal consideration to mental health and physical health problems in pregnancy and the postnatal period.”
“This three-borough service is really good news for local people and we are extremely pleased to be delivering this new specialist mental health service. We will work closely with our partners in primary care, secondary care and the voluntary sector, to ensure women receive joined up care, at the right time and in the right place. Women will be referred to this service by GP’s, midwives or health visitors.
“Our services will see women who are planning a pregnancy and need advice about their mental health. We will also care for women who are pregnant or have a baby up to 6 months old, who have a pre-existing mental illness, or who encounter mental illness for the first time during or after their pregnancy.”
Dr Louise Page, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at West Middlesex University Hospital, a partner in providing the service, says: “This expanded perinatal mental health service is a wonderful example of collaborative working between maternity and mental health services. Women will really benefit from the integration of mental health care within maternity units, where not only will they receive expert care from midwives and obstetricians but also from psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health nurses.
“By improving the mental health and wellbeing of mothers we know there will be a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of their children; so this service will truly be improving the health of West London for many years to come.”
Dr Mohini Parmar, chair of Ealing CCG, said: “Pregnancy is a life-altering experience and inevitably it can have an impact on patients’ mental wellbeing. It is vital that we have strong mental health services in place during and after pregnancy, reflecting our commitment to ensuring that mental health is always recognised as being as important as physical health at every stage of health care we commission.”