Sussex to get maternal mental health funding boost

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A Sussex NHS trust is set to receive a major funding boost as NHS England reveals plans to invest £40m in maternal mental health services around the country.

As part of plans revealed by NHS England today (Saturday), Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust will receive extra money and resources for pregnant women and new mums suffering from mental illness as well as to improve care for the many people with mental health problems attending A&E in crisis.

NHS England say the £40m of funding is to be allocated to 20 areas of the country and will see new or bigger teams set up to give specialist care for all new and expectant mums suffering from conditions such as severe post-natal depression or schizophrenia.

Announcing the plans, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “For most parents having a baby is one of the happiest times of your life. But for tens of thousands of new mums, this experience is sadly overshadowed by severe pregnancy-related mental health problems.

“Now the NHS is taking concrete action to get these mothers and families the specialist mental health support they need.

“It is also the case that many other patients with mental health crises end up using A&E services as their first port of call, so today we are kick-starting the programme to expand the seven day availability of specialist psychiatrist and mental health staff in our major A&Es.”

NHS England say the money will help fund new perinatal consultants, specialist nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists and nursery nurses as well as community peer support for families.

There will also be more social and telephone support where mums who have experience of similar issues will help other mums in need.

The plans have been welcomed by a number of charities including the the PANDAS Foundation (Pre and Postnatal Depression Advise and Support). Donna Collins, who is managing Director of the Foundation said: “We are delighted to hear this exciting news released this morning. The initial investment in 20 areas of the UK will mean that a significantly higher proportion of the population will have access to the services they so desperately need.

“We have been calling for this for the last five years, and this is an important and necessary step in the right direction.

“We have seen a disproportionate rise in the numbers of people accessing our support, suggesting that our collective message is indeed getting out there, but this raises questions on the reality of numbers of people currently affected by perinatal mental health illnesses.

“The new recommended standard for anyone walking through the doors of A&E or a mental health ward are very welcomed, and we believe that this will be a pivotal moment in identifying those in need, facilitating a faster, more appropriate care plan within a more acceptable timescale.”

The NHS also plan to introduce a new recommended standard that says anyone who walks through the front door of A&E or is on a hospital ward in a mental health crisis should be seen by a specialist mental health professional within an hour of being referred.

Within four hours they should have been properly assessed in a skilled and compassionate way, with the correct next steps for their care planned in partnership with them.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Patients in crisis, and expectant and new mothers who are suffering from severe mental health problems need urgent support and care.

“So this investment is fantastic news and will help make sure patients get the care they need, when they need it. As the Prime Minister has made clear, this Government is determined to address the struggles faced by people with mental ill health.”

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