Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust To Implement New NHS Maternal Mental Health Service

Perinatal Mental Health NottinghamshireA dedicated Perinatal Mental Health Service is being rolled out across the UK by the NHS, with Nottingham planning to start as early as January 2022.

What support will the Perinatal Mental Health Service in Nottingham provide?

The Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service will provide assessment and treatment for women who are experiencing or are at an increased chance of experiencing a severe mental health condition during pregnancy and up to one year after birth (known as the perinatal period).  Previously, such support has been lacking, and in many cases, extremely difficult or even impossible to access.

This type of support is particularly important for those that have a history of illnesses like depression, anxiety or PTSD following previous pregnancy and birth-related trauma, as the impact of these experiences can have huge consequences in any subsequent pregnancy for both parents. Equally, providing early, appropriate and tailored support for a new trauma or loss can greatly impact how a woman deals with or recovers from any future pregnancy. The service is not limited to mental health concerns caused by pregnancy or maternity and is accessible during the perinatal period for any complex mental health condition.

Baishali Clayton

Comment from Baishali Clayton, Senior Associate and Solicitor in our expert Medical Negligence team

It is pleasing to see that perinatal mental health has been properly acknowledged by NHS England, and that funding has been made available to help women and their partners that have really suffered from a lack of appropriate follow up and care.  Whilst a lot of maternity trauma cannot be prevented, such as miscarriage, the effects are still devastating for the families, and if they are left to deal with things alone, this can have a huge bearing on mental wellbeing in future pregnancies and can lead to antenatal depression, amongst other things. This in turn hinders and prolongs recovery, even if this time the pregnancy proceeded without complication.

There is a misconception that this means all previous psychological injury must have evaporated at the time of a healthy delivery, but that is just not true. These injuries are deep-seated and can manifest in many ways, such as the development of issues like OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), like repeatedly checking if the baby is still breathing, for fear of them dying unexpectedly. Whilst this sort of concern will naturally present in many new parents, it is important to acknowledge the increased severity of this type of condition in previously bereaved parents. It can have a huge bearing on their ability to interact with their partners, families and friends, which in turn leads to isolation and then often postnatal depression.

At Nelsons, we have supported many clients who have suffered birth or pregnancy trauma, including stillbirth or neonatal death. Having spoken with a number of bereaved mums, it is so sad to see that currently there appears to be a “hierarchy” of loss, and early pregnancy losses, including 1st-trimester termination for serious medical reasons, are not followed up by health professionals in the same way as a 2nd or 3rd trimester or even postnatal loss might be treated. Some of these women went on to suffer further losses and they explained that had they received suitable – or indeed any – support the first time around, they felt they would have dealt with the subsequent losses better.

NHS Long Term Plan

The NHS is rolling out 26 new hubs across the country to bring together maternity services, reproductive health and psychological therapy under one roof. As well as offering psychological therapies for new and expectant mums, the clinics will also provide training for maternity staff and midwives as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to increase access to psychological support for women before, during and after pregnancy.

Some parts of the country are already underway with the service.  Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are intending to commence local services in January 2022, with other hubs around the country opening up by April 2022.

How we can help

If you would like any advice in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Baishali or another member of the team in DerbyLeicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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