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More Women to Benefit from Perinatal Mental Healthcare in East London

A bid led by the East London Health & Care Partnership will transform the care received by women who develop mental health problems as a result of becoming pregnant. Just over £1m will be invested in developing services to support and care for women who will have high-moderate to severe perinatal mental health needs.

Perinatal (services for women from around 28 weeks of pregnancy) mental health services are in high demand in north east London, where rising birth rates mean that waiting times can be as long as eight weeks. Proposals will ensure that over 400 more women will be seen each year by 2021.

Locally tailored and accessible services are being co-designed with service users that will mean specialist teams made up of midwives, specially trained midwives, obstetricians working alongside mental health teams from East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) and North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT).

Women from local groups including the Magpie project, Mind and Roshini-2 gave their views about the kind of help they needed most and where to access it. One woman described what a joined-up approach to perinatal mental health services meant to her. “Being able to see the same staff at each appointment was important to me to build up a level of trust and accept the care being offered. Being able to see the doctors, nurses and psychologists all within the perinatal unit meant my care was comprehensive”. As well as contributing to the design of services, patient and service user patient representatives will be involved in overseeing well they perform on a regular basis.

Welcoming the funding, Rhiannon England, clinical lead for children and mental health at City and Hackney CCG said. “We’ve heard many stories from some women who face difficulties getting the help they need even when it is available and accessible. It’s still very difficult for some women to seek help in the first place.

“So this work is not only about making sure we have the right number of clinicians, social workers, therapists, nurses and support workers providing the right support and treatment at the right time. It also means raising awareness of perinatal mental health issues, helping to reduce the stigma of needing and getting help; and the sometimes devastating impact it can have not just on the women, but their partners and families.”