Even more new mothers from across Suffolk will benefit from targeted help for severe post-natal depression and other complex mental health issues when new staff are appointed to a specialist service run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).
The Suffolk Perinatal Service has launched a drive to appoint to six positions, including psychologists, a nursery nurse, occupational therapist, deputy service manager and admin support.
The new recruits will work alongside the team’s existing nurses, administrator and consultant psychologist to provide specific help to pregnant women with pre-existing conditions, as well as those who develop mental health issues following their child’s birth.
They will offer a range of support and interventions to women for up to a year following the birth. The team also work closely with colleagues within the community who provide perinatal care, such as midwives and health visitors, while helping them to identify women who may be at risk of presenting with mental health difficulties.
The service began seeing patients in late 2017 but officially launched last February after it was commissioned by NHS West Suffolk and Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Within its first year, it has helped around 420 women – significantly more than its original target of 225.
Pat Long (pictured), NSFT’s Deputy Director of Operations for Suffolk, said: “We are proud of the work which this vital service has done do far to help transform care for women with the most complex needs. The feedback we’ve received tells us that the care and support which new mums have been given has been, for many, life-changing.
“As well as caring for people with conditions such as severe post-natal depression, the service also offer 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.
“Once we have recruited to these additional roles, the multi-disciplinary team will be able to further expand the services they provide. They plan to look at ways they can anticipate potential issues in expectant mums so they can work with them to reduce their anxiety and keep them out of hospital wherever possible, and will also be exploring how we can better support partners.
“We would encourage anyone who wants to work as part of a close-knit and cohesive team and make a real difference to women when they are at their most vulnerable to consider applying for one of these exciting roles.”
Suffolk Perinatal Service is delivered in partnership with Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospitals. The NSFT team work closely with midwifery staff at both hospitals, as well as health visitors in the community and other stakeholders such as social services, to coordinate care so that women receive joined-up services.
Dr Rosalind Tandy, a Suffolk GP and mental health lead for NHS West Suffolk CCG, said: “It is really marvellous that this service is supporting so many new mothers. We know from feedback that the team is making a positive difference to people’s lives.
“All the staff should be proud of the work they are doing and I would encourage others to consider the various new job vacancies on offer and the opportunities available to join the team and enjoy a fulfilling career.”
More information about the roles which NSFT is recruiting to can be found at www.jobs.nhs.uk. Applications close in two weeks.
Case study – “They have made an enormous difference”
A new mum has credited the fantastic support she has received from the Suffolk Perinatal Service with helping her to enjoy a positive experience both during her pregnancy and her first child’s birth.
Jenny, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was referred to the team when she was 16 weeks’ pregnant, and received help throughout the remainder of her pregnancy and during the birth of her son at West Suffolk Hospital in April.
Staff working for the team will continue to work with the 23-year-old, as she is now pregnant for a second time, and will do so up until her new baby’s first birthday.
“The team have seen me regularly throughout both pregnancies, and more often when needed,” said Jenny, who has Asperger’s and lives in Clare. “I also have regular contact with my perinatal mental health nurse via the phone as and whenever necessary between appointments.
“They have given both me and my family support throughout both pregnancies. They set up a very detailed care plan for my hospital care and the birth, and my perinatal mental health nurse came to appointments with me and helped me to communicate with midwives and consultants. They organised for me to have regular check-ups throughout my pregnancy to reassure me and ease my anxiety.
“The perinatal team has made an enormous difference, they have offered me so much support and continue to do so. I’ve been able to build a good relationship with my perinatal mental health nurse which makes a big difference, as she is someone I trust and who understands me and my Asperger’s, which is really important for someone on the autistic spectrum.
“They have helped me gain confidence again and are working on me gaining more independence and even more confidence. Their support enabled me to have a really positive experience and positive birth.”