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More mental health support for new mothers
​The recently launched Suffolk Perinatal Service (SPS) has been awarded extra funding - meaning its capacity to support women with moderate to severe mental health issues will almost treble.

The service, which is provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and was officially launched in February this year, will receive £366,000 from the NHS England Community Services Development Fund after a successful bid for funding by NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups.

SPS provides specialist care to women in east and west Suffolk with conditions such as post and ante-natal depression and psychosis, during pregnancy and up to a year after birth.

Currently the service is able to meet the needs of around 225 women each year. With this extra funding it is estimated this will increase to 656 by 2020/21. The current team of four full-time staff is set to increase to 11½ full-time posts and a greater number of health care staff will be able to receive education and training to enhance their perinatal skill set.

Dr Rosalind Tandy, a GP in Bury St Edmunds and mental health lead for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s obvious that there is great confidence in how effective this service is for mothers with mental health issues. It is certainly pleasing that this extra funding has been awarded so soon after the service was launched.

"We know from feedback from service users that the care and support received from the SPS has been phenomenal and in fact, for many, it has been life-changing.

“Pregnancy and motherhood can be joyful but of course not everyone has this experience. This service is so vital in supporting women to enjoy this time of their lives as best as they can.”

Pete Devlin, NSFT Director of Operations (Suffolk), said: “We are really pleased to be able to expand this important new service, which has already been beginning to transform care for women with the most complex needs.

“Now being able to offer that specialist care to so many more women and their families is incredibly important and we’re very proud that our young service is already attracting more funding.” 

Pete explained that, as well as caring for people with conditions such as severe post-natal depression, SPS offers pre-conception counselling to women who already have a mental health condition, support for the rest of the family and training for other healthcare professionals.

“Our aim is to start working with women as early as possible, with support then continuing for up to a year following the birth of their child.

“By working closely with our partners, we will make sure these women benefit from joined-up care when they are at their most vulnerable,” he added.

The NSFT team works closely with maternity staff at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals as well as health visitors in the community and social services to ensure every woman receives a comprehensive and effective package of joined-up care.

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