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Norfolk and Waveney leading the way in parental mental health

New data has shown that Norfolk and Waveney is among the best in the country for the specialist perinatal mental health services provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) has rated the area as “green” in its latest assessment of service provision across the country, which means that the community services provided to new and expectant mums meet the highest quality standards. 

The new services were developed as a result of the strong partnership working within Norfolk and Waveney STP, which has brought in significant national and local investment in order to fund this care. 

The services are targeted at pregnant women and new mums with serious mental health difficulties, and their families.

The SP developed services include: 

• The Community Perinatal Mental Health Service, which offers targeted help to pregnant women and new mums with serious mental health difficulties. The service caters for people with conditions such as severe post-natal depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis. It also offers pre-conception advice about medication and the support needed by woman with a known mental illness wishing to conceive, with women able to stay under the care of the team until their child is a year old.

• The eight-bedded Kingfisher Mother and Baby Unit (MBU), which is currently being developed at Kingfisher House, at Hellesdon Hospital, using £4m in national funding. 

Due to open in early 2019, it will ensure mums and their babies can stay together while the mother receives inpatient care for conditions such as severe postnatal depression, serious anxiety disorders and postpartum psychosis, which causes hallucinations and can severely disrupt perception and behaviour. It will also accept women in late pregnancy who require acute psychiatric inpatient care.

The bid for funding for the unit was led by NSFT in collaboration with Norfolk and Waveney STP.

It comes in addition to the £2.8m in additional revenue funding which NSFT will receive annually to deliver the new service. 

Clive Rennie, Assistant Director Integrated Commissioning (Mental Health and Learning Disabilities) with Norfolk’s CCGs, said: “This is a major feather in the cap of our STP partnership working and shows huge confidence in this type of healthcare provision in our area. 

“All credit should be given to the staff doing such a good job already to support women with severe mental health issues and their babies, who are now able to receive excellent care  close to home.” 

Susan Stolworthy, NSFT’s Operational Manager for Perinatal Services, said: “We are incredibly proud that our work at NSFT has been recognised in this way. We are now sharing our learning with colleagues from across the country and with NHS England as part of an ongoing drive to improve provision of perinatal mental health care nationally.

“Over the past few years, we have been working very hard to improve the care which is provided to mothers with mental health difficulties. This has seen us launch several new specialist services, which are designed to give these vulnerable women the care they need to go on and enjoy a healthy, happy life with their new baby. 

“The next phase will be the opening of our new MBU at Kingfisher House, in Norwich. This vital unit will provide potentially life-changing care to new mothers with serious mental health problems, and will mean they can receive the psychiatric support they need without having to travel elsewhere.”

A range of other services are also in place to support new parents and their children, including:

• The Parent Infant Mental Health Attachment Team, which is delivered by NSFT in partnership with Norfolk County Council and offers specialist therapy and targeted mental health support to the parents of babies up the age of two who live in Norfolk and are at risk of being taken into care. 

The team works intensively with families where a specific safeguarding concern has been raised. They provide support to parents with mental health problems who are finding it difficult to attach to their child, with the ultimate aim of reducing the number going through court proceedings and being taken into care. 

• The Point 1 0 – 4 Team, which is part of the wider Point 1 Service delivered in partnership with Ormiston Families and youth charity MAP and provides support and therapeutic services to families from before birth through to pre-school. 

The team work alongside other services across Norfolk and Waveney to support healthy attachments and relationships as the foundations for long-term wellbeing for infants and young children. As well as working therapeutically with families, they will also offer advice to other professionals and run ‘circle of security’ groups to help parents better understand their child’s emotional world.

Last summer, NSFT also launched the East and West Suffolk Perinatal Mental Health Clinic, which offers specific help to pregnant women with pre-existing conditions as well as those who develop mental health issues following their child’s birth. 

On Tuesday (8 May), NHS England pledged that specialist perinatal mental health community services would be made available to new and expectant mums in every part of the country by April 2019. The drive this work, £23m will be rolled out to develop community perinatal services in underserved parts of the country.

To view the MMHA data, visit​ 

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