Mental health clinic to launch at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals to help new mothers
PUBLISHED: 09:44 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:44 15 June 2017
A specialist clinic is launching in Suffolk to treat pregnant women and new mothers suffering from mental health problems.
The new perinatal service will start later this summer and patients will be able to get appointments at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals.
The clinic has been created by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), with funding from West Suffolk and Ipswich and East Suffolk NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG).
The service will be run by a consultant psychiatrist and two senior nurses who will provide a range of support and interventions to mothers with serious mental illness for up to a year following childbirth, while also helping them to identify women who may be at risk of becoming mentally unwell during motherhood.
Mike Seaman, service manager for acute services in West Suffolk, has led the project for NSFT. He said: “We are really pleased to be able to launch this important new service, which will transform care for women with the most complex needs.
“As well as caring for people with conditions such as severe post-natal depression, we will also offer pre-conception counselling to women who already have a mental health condition, support for the rest of the family and training for other healthcare professionals. Our aim is to start working with women as early as possible, with support then continuing for up to a year following the birth of their child.”
The NSFT team will work closely with midwifery staff at both Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals, as well as health visitors and social services, in order to provide women with “joined-up care when they are at their most vulnerable”, Mr Seaman said.
The service will offer around 750 appointments each year.
Dr Rosalind Tandy, a Suffolk GP and mental health lead for West Suffolk CCG, said: “The introduction of this new service is a further development in the improvement of local mental health services, and one that will really help new mothers.
“Pregnancy and childbirth are complex events involving a mix of emotional, physical, psychological and lifestyle change which can lead to the reoccurrence of pre-existing mental health issues or for new issues to occur. Depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental illness during pregnancy and after birth.
“Pregnancy and motherhood can be joyful experiences and this service aims to give new mothers the opportunity to best enjoy this time of their lives.”
The announcement comes during Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from June 12-16 and highlights the importance of a baby’s first 1,001 days, starting from its conception and continuing until it reaches its second birthday.