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NHS reveals new specialist centres for perinatal mental health problems

The successful bidders for £40m funding to improve NHS mental health support for new mothers have been named.

NHS England received 64 applications for the three-year funding, from which it chose 20 successful bidders for wave 1. The schemes, aimed at pregnant women and new mothers who suffer from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or psychosis, will support 30,000 more patients a year by 2021.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, who will announce the funding in a speech at the Mind conference tomorrow, 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.”

The successful bidders include:

  • Bristol CCG, which will introduce partnership working across three CCGs to expand a recently established small team into a wider area, new electronic records to support shared care, and develop community support groups, buddying and telephone support.
  • Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT, which will develop a new service so women across four CCG areas can benefit from specialist care, introducing clinical leadership to support integrated pathways of care across provider organisations.
  • Southern Health NHS FT, which will expand the service across an additional three CCG areas, including peer support for mums, partners and older siblings in partnership with the voluntary sector, and a service user-led qualitative service evaluation.

The successful proposals cover 90 CCGs, six STP footprints and the four NHS England regions. A further £20m will be allocated next year. To see a full list of the successful bidders, click here.

Claire Murdoch, the national mental health director, said: “We have committed to delivering evidence-based treatments for an extra one million people by 2020 and it’s a significant achievement to be able to show how a substantial number of those people will be helped just nine months after launch.”

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, added that 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,” he said.

Maternity and mental health are both priority areas for the NHS, following the publication of national reviews which found that services in both areas are failing patients.

The new CCG Improvement and Assessment Framework for 2016-17 shows that over half of CCGs are rated as ‘needs improvement’ in these areas.

Stevens will also reveal a new recommended standard that says any hospital or A&E patient experiencing a mental health crisis should be seen by a specialist mental health professional within an hour of being referred.

Within four hours they should be properly assessed in a skilled and compassionate way, with the correct next steps for their care planned in partnership with them. In the second quarter of this year, 90.6% of A&E patients waited more than four hours to be treated against a 95% target.

NHS England also announced £30m of funding which regional A&E Delivery Boards can bid for, to pay for additional A&E psychiatrists and mental health nurses.

It has also promised to commission four new mother and baby units, and establish a national scheme for mental health providers and hospitals to improve identification of and support for people with mental health problems attending A&E frequently.

(Image c. David Jones from the Press Association)

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