£366k funding boost for ‘vital’ mental health service helping new and expectant Suffolk mums

The service is for women during pregancy and for a year after birth. Picture: KATIE COLLINS/PA WIRE

The service is for women during pregancy and for a year after birth. Picture: KATIE COLLINS/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

New and expectant mothers in Suffolk who are suffering with mental health issues are set to benefit from a major expansion in specialist services.

The recently launched Suffolk Perinatal Services (SPS) has been awarded £366,000 to reach more women suffering from moderate to severe mental health issues.

Led by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), the service provides specialist care to treat conditions such as antenatal depression and psychosis during pregnancy and up to a year after birth.

SPS is able to support 225 women a year - but with funding from NHS England’s Community Services Development Fund it will increase to 656 by 2020/21.

The successful funding bid by Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), will see the team of four full-time staff expand to 11.5 full-time posts.

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Rosalind Tandy, a GP in Bury St Edmunds and mental health lead for West Suffolk CCG, said: “It’s obvious that there is great confidence in how effective this service is for mothers with mental health issues. It is certainly pleasing that this extra funding has been awarded so soon after the service was launched.

“We know from feedback from service users that the care and support received from the SPS has been phenomenal and in fact, for many, it has been life-changing.

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“Pregnancy and motherhood can be joyful but of course not everyone has this experience. This service is so vital in supporting women to enjoy this time of their lives as best as they can.”

Suffolk had previously been rated “red” by the The Maternal Mental Health Alliance - meaning there was deemed “no provision” of specialist services – however the rating predated SPS’s launch.

Pete Devlin, NSFT’s director of operations in Suffolk, said: “We are really pleased to be able to expand this important new service, which has already been beginning to transform care for women with the most complex needs.

Now being able to offer that specialist care to so many more women and their families is incredibly important and we’re very proud that our young service is already attracting more funding.”

SPS also offers pre-conception counselling to women who already have a mental health condition, support for family and training for other healthcare professionals. NSFT works with hospital maternity staff, health visitors and social services.

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