Women across Birmingham and Solihull who experience mental ill health during their pregnancy, or in the year after the birth of their baby, are being supported by a new community perinatal mental service that aims to provide better outcomes for themselves, their families and their babies.
Designed and delivered by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust (BWCFT), the new community perinatal service forms part of Birmingham and Solihull United Maternity and Newborn Partnership (Bump), which is transforming services across the region and has a particular focus on mental health of mums, and mums-to-be.
The team of specialist mental health professionals ensures that women have timely access to pre-conception advice, early assessment in pregnancy and care planning into the postnatal period from highly trained, specialist perinatal mental health staff. Based at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, the team provide a safe and seamless transition between services, as and when they are needed.
The new perinatal service began in early 2017 and has so far supported over 245 women who have given birth at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), responsible for commissioning maternity and mental health services in Birmingham and Solihull, has secured an additional £1.13 million funding from NHS England’s perinatal mental health community services development fund to extend the service to women giving birth at Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals.
This additional funding forms part of a package of measures, worth a total of £365m by 2021, to transform specialist perinatal services so that at least 30,000 additional women nationally can access evidence-based treatment that is closer to home and when they need it, through specialist community services and inpatient mother and baby units.
At a community perinatal event held in Birmingham last month, one mum, who wishes to be known as Kate, said: “At 30 weeks pregnant, my mental health deteriorated drastically.
“The excellent work of psychiatrists, clinical nurse practitioners and their partnership liaison with obstetric consultants and midwives meant that I was able to be closely monitored until the birth of my baby.
“The care that was provided to me during this difficult time took great pressure off my husband, who was able to take care of our other children.
“Outstanding communication between all departments involved in my care meant that I remained safe and cared for during my pregnancy and in the year after the arrival of my baby.”
One in five women will experience mental ill health during pregnancy or after giving birth. A range of services from primary care including care provided by GPs and improved access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services, such as those provided by BSMHFT’s Birmingham Health Minds can provide support for those with mild to moderate difficulties during the perinatal period. For those women who experience severe difficulties, this new service provides access to the right care.
John Short, Chief Executive at BSMHFT, said: “Perinatal services in Birmingham were established over 30 years ago to provide care as support to women at risk of significant mental ill health during pregnancy, or in the first year following the birth of a child.
“We have always had a strong working partnership with Birmingham Women’s Hospital to ensure that the physical and mental health needs of women and their families were being met.
“However, the success of this new service has made an incredible difference to the health and wellbeing of women, their families and their children, by strengthening the care through critical partnerships with hospital, GP, community midwifery and health visiting.”
Dr Mukesh Bhardwaj, Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Maternity at NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG and a local GP, added: “We are delighted to have helped secure this funding, so that we can continue to strengthen the services on offer to women and their families in Birmingham and Solihull, ensuring they are able to access the right support, at the right time.”
Aimee, a mum who has used, and has been involved in the development of, the new community perinatal service, added: “Access to specialist support from the Psychiatrist made me feel safe and able to get better.
“The range of support was great; as my situation changed they adapted the service to my needs. I’ve been able to use a difficult time to make some positive changes, making my whole family happier.”