Vulnerable women in Norfolk and Waveney will soon receive targeted help with complex mental health problems after Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was awarded nearly £2.5m to launch a specialist perinatal service.
The Trust successfully bid to NHS England for the money to develop a specialist perinatal community service over the next three years. The service will care for pregnant women and new mothers with serious mental health difficulties, as well as providing support for the rest of the family and training for other healthcare professionals.
It will cater for people with conditions such as severe post-natal depression and will also offer pre-conception counselling to women who already have a mental health condition. The service’s aim will be to provide timely support which is specially-tailored to meet each patient’s individual needs.
The funding has been awarded after figures showed an estimated 360 women in Norfolk and Waveney have severe perinatal mental health need, with a further 3 – 5,000 with mild to moderate needs. Currently, these women receive care from midwives, health visitors and secondary mental health services.
NSFT will now begin work to recruit a 14-strong team to deliver the service, which will include consultant psychiatrists, mental health nurses, a psychologist, occupational therapist, social worker and administrators.
Michael Scott, Chief Executive of NSFT, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this funding, which will transform the care which mums-to-be and new mothers with mental health difficulties receive. This will allow them to bond more successfully with their baby, strengthening the family unit and ensuring their child gets the best possible start in life.
“Intervening early with this vulnerable group is especially important, as statistics show suicide is the leading cause of death for women during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth. “Our aim is to make sure mothers and their infants receive prompt assessment and treatment, along with dedicated management of their case.
“The service will also provide education and training programme for others involved in the care of pregnant and post-partum women, including general psychiatric teams, GPs, midwives, health visitors and psychological treatment services.
“This will help us identify those at risk at an early stage so that we can provide the best possible care and make sure both their mental health needs, and the developmental needs of their babies, are met.”