‘Maternal mental health services must be right for women and in the right places with specialist midwives says RCM’

By RCM on 25 November 2016 Maternal Mental health NHS England Specialist Midwives RCM Perinatal Mental Health

NHS England has today (Saturday November 26th) announced plans to improve mental healthcare for pregnant women in England.

A £60million fund which has already been pledged by the Government will be allocated to twenty different areas across in England with each been given £40m to establish new or expand current specialist perinatal community mental health services. 

Other commitments in today’s announcement from NHS England include:

  • Helping to reach 30,000 more women a year by 2021. The further £20m will be allocated in a second wave next year.
  •  Inviting A&E Delivery Boards to bid for £30m funding for expert psychiatrists and mental health nurses to provide better care for people with urgent and emergency mental health needs attending A&E and being treated on general hospital wards.  

Commenting Janet Fyle Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says; “Not every woman with pregnancy related mental health problems needs to go to a mother and baby unit, those with serious mental illness need this type of care, but unfortunately these specialist units are few and far between. It’s like a postcode lottery and it depends on where you live. Some women have to travel miles away from their families and it is only when crisis level has been reached that women are treated at these specialist units.

The RCM for sometime now has been calling for more community focused services and recognition that some women with pregnancy related mental illness can be treated nearer their home, where they can be monitored by a specialist team to stop their condition escalating. This type of care and treatment is inexpensive, more practical and is more effective.

“The RCM welcomes that this announcement has acknowledged the need for more skilled expert staff and is focussed on improving care within the community and providing appropriate support services around this.

However, the RCM would like to see a specialist maternal mental health midwife in post in every maternity unit and trained to the standards developed by the RCM.”

"We cannot continue to read the  constant reports of the number of women  killing themselves because they were not identified earlier and treated or because of the lack of trained staff or as a result of lack of services –  its heart breaking and we can do better as a country.

Providing these services that are right for women and in the right places with trained midwives and psychiatrists and psychologists will save the NHS money in the long term and more importantly begin to stop the toll that pregnancy related mental ill health exerts on women and their families.”


To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].


Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.