‘Action must be taken to ensure life saving perinatal mental health services are in place for women in Northern Ireland says RCM’

By MMHA on 18 April 2018 Maternal Mental health Perinatal Mental Health

Today (Thursday 19th April) the Maternal Mental Health Alliance(MMHA) Everyone’s Business Campaign has launched new maps which show that pregnant women and new mothers in a quarter of the UK still cannot access lifesaving specialist perinatal mental health services, which meet national guidelines.

According to this new data, pregnant women and new mothers in 24% of the UK still have no access to specialist perinatal mental health services (rated red on the map).

The MMHA maps illustrate accessibility to specialist perinatal mental health services which vary widely across the UK. Geographical areas highlighted in green indicate provision of services and Northern Ireland currently has zero areas highlighted in green.

Commenting on the  MMHA maps, RCM’s Director for Northern Ireland, Breedagh Hughes said; “Perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland have seen very little improvement since these maps where first published three years ago and the continued  lack of specialist services for some of the most vulnerable pregnant women and mothers in Northern Ireland is completely unacceptable.

“There is not one mother and baby unit in the country where pregnant or new mothers with mental health problems can be cared for with their babies and this is a serious failing and needs to be addressed urgently.

“In January 2017 the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) published a vital review of perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland and sadly vital recommendations contained in that report remain unimplemented as Northern Ireland remains without a Government.”


Notes to editors

Data from the new maps

Accessibility of specialist perinatal mental health services, rated green on the map, varies widely across the 4 nations:

  • In Northern Ireland 0 areas are green
  •  In England 51% of areas are green (106 areas)
  •   In Wales 28% of areas are green (2 areas)
  •   In Scotland 7% of areas are green (1 area)


What are specialist perinatal mental health services?

Women and babies who need specialist community perinatal care must have access to a team consisting of specially trained staff including psychiatrists, mental health nurses, psychologists, social workers, midwives and health visitors. Inpatient mother and baby units where mum and baby are cared for together are essential when a hospital admission is required.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is a coalition of over 85 UK organisations with a vision to see all women across the UK gets consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth. www.maternalmentalhealthalliance.org

The MMHA’s Everyone’s Business Campaign calls for all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems to receive the care they and their families need, wherever and whenever they need it. www.maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/campaign

About the maps

The maps were created from data collected by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2017, via self-assessment. Each area was rated using criteria from the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ CCQI Standards. Visit our website for a description of what each colour on the map means.

To contact the RCM Media Relations Team 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/