Fears over Mental Health Care for Pregnant Women

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Health Correspondent mark.smith@walesonline.co.uk

THE NHS offers "dangerously inadequate" care to women who suffer mental health problems during or after pregnancy and so neglects mothers at risk of suicide, it has been claimed.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) has warned new dfigures show women who develop a perinatal mental illness are missing out on potentially life-saving care.

In response, the Welsh Government says health boards are expected to have a maternal mental health plan in place to support women who are identified as being at risk.

An audit of specialist perinatal mental health services found that the vast majority of Wales has no specialist mental health team.

Only Cardiff and Vale and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board regions have "basic levels" of provision, but which currently fall short of national standards.

Dr Jane Hanley, president of the International Marce Society for Perinatal Mental Health at Swansea University, said: "This data is of concern for everyone in Wales who is pregnant or knows someone who has recently had a baby.

"The provision of care is sparse, with over 70% of Wales having no specialised community perinatal mental health services, and what does exist is mainly centred around the south.

"The mapping of existing services in England clearly shows significant differences - and yet the needs of Welsh mothers are no less.

"There are 15 mother and baby units in England, and the recent discussion on the closure of the only Welsh mother and baby unit has heightened the controversy of the need for this type of specialised service. …