An event to launch the expansion of perinatal services across north east London took place on Wednesday 27 March at the London Stadium in Stratford. The event was jointly hosted by the East London Health and Care Partnership, the North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) and ELFT.
Perinatal mental health services provide care to women who experience mental health issues during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental health problems can have long-standing effects on children's emotional, social and cognitive development without the right care.
The event brought together a wide range of staff from across the region including mental health professionals, midwives, health visitors, GPs, commissioners and women who have used perinatal services to listen to a series of specialist speakers and to hear how increased investment in perinatal services is being used locally.
£600 million is being invested over five years in a national programme to expand existing perinatal mental health services and develop new perinatal services and mother and baby units
Hackney & City CCG representative David Maher set the scene: “North East London has some of the UK’s highest levels of deprivation with three CCGs in the top ten for levels of deprivation. Tower Hamlets has the highest score for income deprivation affecting children”
Keynote speaker Dr Liz McDonald, Perinatal Bursary Clinical Lead at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, gave a compelling presentation on the bigger picture surrounding postnatal mental wellbeing, including the representation of pregnant women in the media. She advocated for a ‘trauma informed approach’ in caring after mothers and babies.
ELFT Modern Matron Justine Cawley explained ‘The expansion of services in north-east London is necessary considering that there are 25% more births per year in this region than in any other part of London’.
NELFT non-executive director, Sultan Taylor, closed the event by congratulating all involved in the bringing together of the wealth of expertise, knowledge and partners in the room and expressing his gratitude to those who had presented.
Any woman may develop mental health problems during pregnancy and in the first year after giving birth. However, risk is important. Factors such as poverty, migration, extreme stress, exposure to violence (domestic, sexual, childhood abuse, and gender-based), emergency and conflict situations, natural disasters, trauma and low social support are recognised as increasing risk for specific disorders.
Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of women and covers a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, it can have significant and long-lasting effects on the woman and her relationship with her baby. From the baby’s point of view, it is vital to help a mother recover as quickly as possible. Locally, it is predicted that approximately 3,530 women will have a moderate-high to severe perinatal mental health need by 2021. So with increasing levels of perinatal mental health needs, there is a pressing need for greater capacity/provision.
NHS England has committed to fulfilling the ambition in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, so that by 2020/21 there will be increased access to specialist perinatal mental health support in all areas of England, allowing at least an additional 30,000 women each year to receive evidence-based treatment, closer to home, when they need it. This includes the right range of specialist community and inpatient care.