Nearly one in five women will develop a mental illness during their pregnancy or in the first year after their baby is born (known as the perinatal period). That illness can be devastating for the women and their families – but specialist treatment can be highly effective.
Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in North West London asked us to support their collaborative £1.8 million project to develop and implement a new perinatal mental health service.
With more than 12,000 births a year in this disadvantaged part of London and many different medical professionals involved it was a complex task. Our experts used their knowledge and experience of NHS projects to work with multiple stakeholders, including West London Mental Health NHS Trust, and develop a clear and practical plan to meet women’s needs. That included identifying the best locations for the service, how to link it to other maternity care and how to get the referrals system right.
Once the CCGs had a clear plan, we supported them in negotiating contracts for premises and in making sure the IT and funding systems worked. That was backed up by a clear programme of communication both with the staff involved and the women who might need specialist care.
Within six months the service was up and running and, in its first year, treated more than 300 women. Their feedback has been hugely positive both about the care they receive and how efficiently it operates. And there’s clear evidence that it’s having a significant impact in improving the mental health of mothers in the area. The service was highly commended in the Positive Practice National Awards.