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The government has announced plans to introduce a series of new specialist perinatal mental health community services across the country by April 2019.
NHS England has confirmed that £23 million will be allocated to support the establishment of a second wave of community perinatal services in underserved parts of the country, with the goal of achieving full geographical coverage.
Multidisciplinary teams involving occupational therapists, doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nursery nurses and administrative staff will work together to provide a comprehensive service to new mums with mental health issues. This will include psychiatric and psychological assessments and care for women with complex or severe problems during the perinatal period.
These services will also provide pre-conception advice for women with a current or past severe mental illness who are planning a pregnancy, while four eight-bed mother and baby units will be rolled out throughout 2018-19 to provide specialist care and support to mothers in parts of the country where access has historically been a problem.
As recently as 2014, it was estimated that only three per cent of the country had good access to perinatal mental health care. These new services will help to address this by taking advantage of the full range of expertise that occupational therapists and other medical professionals can offer.
Claire Murdoch, national mental health director for NHS England, said: "Women with lived-in experience can play a pivotal role when it comes to shaping the services for others and influencing how we plan and deliver care as effectively as possible.
"What we are now starting to see is evidence-based NHS services growing in parts of the country where there used to be limited or no provision at all."
Overall, the government has committed to a package of measures worth a total of £365 million by 2021 to transform specialist perinatal services across the country, with the aim of ensuring that at least 30,000 additional women can access evidence-based treatment close to home and when it is needed.
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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