More money for mental health

By Hollie Ewers on 30 October 2018 Budget 2018 NHS Funding Postnatal Depression Maternal Mental health

NHS funding will increase, including more spending for mental health, the chancellor confirmed in the government’s budget announcement yesterday (29 October).

The government will increase its NHS budget by £20.5bn after inflation by 2023-24. Within this, the NHS will increase mental health spending by more than £2bn a year by 2023-24.

RCM head of health and social policy Sean O’Sullivan said: ‘I trust that the chancellor’s reference to mental health and children and young people extends to maternity care for pregnant women and their developing babies.

‘The RCM has said time and time again that there is an urgent need for the government to invest more into funding services for women suffering with pregnancy related mental health problems.

‘We would want to see some of this money going to improve care for these women. This includes guaranteeing every hospital trust has a specialist maternal mental health midwife, who can ensure pregnant women get the best possible support with their mental health during pregnancy.’

Sean added that there is also a pressing need to ensure women get the best care and support after the birth of their baby. This is so that any signs of postnatal depression can be recognised and treated, so that women get the support they need. 

‘This means investing more in midwives and maternity services generally outside of this announcement, and I hope that this is part of the chancellor’s calculations for the £20bn for the NHS,’ Sean said.

The government also announced further details on a new statutory entitlement to two weeks’ bereavement leave for employees following the stillbirth of a child, after 24 weeks of pregnancy, which will come into force in April 2020. 

The charity Right To Life has welcomed this inclusion in the budget and spokesperson Clare McCarthy said: ‘We welcome the introduction of entitlement to bereavement leave for parents grieving the loss of a stillborn baby. We would like to see this bereavement leave extended further, to the loss of a child before 24 weeks. 

‘The loss and pain of losing a child, no matter how small, can never be underestimated. There is no time limit on grief and this should be reflected in government policy.’

A summary of the announcement can be read here.