NHS England has launched a £5m Perinatal Community Services Development Fund to help close a gap in the availability of high quality care for women with severe or complex mental health problems after giving birth.
The new programme will help an extra 30,000 new or expectant mums each year who experience serious mental ill health by offering them the right care at the right time.
Specialist community services provide care and support to women with a mental illness in pregnancy or the postnatal period. They also respond to crises, aim to decrease risks to mothers and babies and offer after care following an inpatient stay in a mother and baby unit.
However, fewer than 15 per cent of areas currently provide services to levels recommended in national guidelines, and more than 40 per cent provide no service at all.
One in five women experience mental ill health during pregnancy or in the year after birth, including depression, anxiety or in some cases post-partum psychosis. This affects about 2 in every 1000 new mothers and suicide is the second leading cause of maternal death, after cardiovascular disease.
Overall, £365m has been allocated for specialist perinatal mental health services over the next five years, so that, by 2021 30,000 more women each year will be able to access care and treatment.
Health leaders can now submit proposals, focusing on increasing access and improving the quality of services. Local systems will be able to request funding for up to three years, and total funding available will increase to £15m next year and £40m in 2018.
Successful schemes will implement new ways of improving specialist perinatal mental health community care in response to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.
NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Sustainability and Transformation (STP) areas can submit proposals and will need to show how they will either widen the reach of their service to more places or improve resources for a small team to help more people. The proposals must be clear about how the growth or creation of the team will provide additional care to greater numbers of women, and provide information on how new staff will be trained adequately to fill the specialist roles.
Plans must include how they will sustainably deliver the best treatment and outcomes for women and families Proposals should be for investment up to three years as the size of the fund grows. There will be two key waves of funding – one from 2016/17 and a second from 2018/19. From 2019/20, monies will be mainstreamed into CCG allocations.
Guidance is now available to support applications and applications can now be made. They should be submitted by Friday 16th September 2016, 5pm and successful applicants will be informed in October 2016.