'Gaps' In Mental Health Care For New Mothers

New Mothers Are Struggling To Get The Psychological Support They Need

07.07.2014

A parenting charity has claimed there are huge gaps in support and care for new mothers using the NHS in England.

According to the National Childbirth Trust, even though ten per cent of new mothers experience some form of post-natal depression, it is often the case that either little or no care is offered to those suffering from the condition.

Of all clinical commissioning groups in England, only three per cent have a specific strategy to offer therapy - either drug-based or counselling-oriented, reports the BBC.

However, many clinical commissioning groups realise that they are not doing enough to help new mothers with any potential mental health issues they may develop, and 40 per cent of the 194 bodies said they have plans to establish a strategy for providing care.

National Childbirth Trust (NCT) chief executive Belinda Phipps said: "While we found some areas with excellent care, too often we have found situations where there is no care, or very little care.

"If there are whole areas where GPs, midwives and health visitors have no training or time to dedicate to this vital service then women will not get the help and support they need."

Ms Phipps added that in some cases a lack of care has resulted in loss of life - something that should be avoided at all costs in the future.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, NHS England's national clinical director for maternity and women's health, said that while many hospitals offer excellent care to people who have just given birth, the overall level of service offered by the organisation is "too varied" at present.

Earlier this year it was found that a mother with postnatal depression who killed her five-week old baby should have received more help from her local NHS trust.

Amelia Lilly Sultan-Curtis died from a head injury sustained after an assault by her mother on October 8th 2012.

A serious case review found that extra support for her depression would have been beneficial and could potentially have helped prevent the death - although some blame was put on the mother for not taking her full antidepressant dosage.

Natasha Sultan, the baby's mother, was given a three-year supervision order after being found guilty of infanticide.

Expert Opinion
The research from the National Childbirth Trust is worrying as every new mum should be able to have access to support and advice from the NHS, especially at a time when they can feel vulnerable and in need of help.

“Psychiatric patients are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. They require access to a consistently high standard of care, as otherwise there can be serious implications. It can be extremely difficult to understand many mental health issues as there are often no physical signs, therefore this means that extra care needs to be taken to ensure patients are receiving the best possible care.

“Steps need to be taken by the NHS to ensure that midwives and health visitors have sufficient training so they can help new mums suffering from post natal depression to get the treatment and care they need.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner