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19.04.18

Women in quarter of the UK still can’t access specialist maternal MH services

Pregnant women and new mothers cannot access specialist mental health services in a quarter of the UK, according to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA).

According to national guidelines, women should have access to specialist perinatal mental health services, but new maps launched by the MMHA’s Everyone’s Business Campaign reveal that this is not the case.

Although the MMHA says that there have been “encouraging signs of progress” in some parts of the country, it argued that progress is not the same across the country, meaning that women and families face a postcode lottery.

In 2016, then prime minister David Cameron pledged to end this lottery by 2020, but currently women in a worrying 24% of the UK have no access to specialist perinatal mental health services at all.

Since the last campaign maps in 2015, there have been improvements to the services available to women and babies, with NHS England using new government money to develop specialist services.

An announcement of the successful areas that will benefit from wave two of their community development fund is expected shortly, which the MMHA claims will lead to improved access in even more of England and Wales.

The Welsh Government has given money to local Health Boards who have rapidly improved services, but Scotland and Northern Ireland have prioritised no funding to date.

Today’s map highlighted just one area (7%) in Scotland where women are able to access specialist services that meet national standards. This rises to two areas (28%) in Wales, and 106 areas (51%) in England.

Dr. Alain Gregoire, chair of the MMHA, said: “Over 10 years ago national guidelines said that specialist perinatal mental health services should be available for all women who need them. This still hasn’t happened.

“We want to celebrate the new perinatal services that have been set up, but these maps show that there is still an urgent need for change on the ground.

“For women and families to be able to access specialist services, we need to see funding across all four nations of the UK. The job is not yet done.”

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