New mother and baby mental health unit for Kent, Sussex and Surrey mums
Date: 21 April 2017
NHS England has confirmed that Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) has been successful with its bid to provide a new mother and baby mental health inpatient unit in the South East for patients from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The expansion in mother and baby unit capacity is part of NHS England’s work programme to improve the access and quality of perinatal mental health services across the country.
KMPT’s existing Mother and Infant Mental Health Service (MIMHS) already provides an excellent community service to mothers across Kent and Medway who need mental health advice and treatment during pregnancy and up to one year after birth. Previously, when admission to a specialist inpatient unit was needed, new mums could face being placed outside in a unit up to 200 miles away from loved ones. Or, if no specialist beds were available to accommodate them with their new born baby, mother and child would have to be separated.
The new specialist unit, which will be based in Kent, will mean that women from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex who experience mental ill health during pregnancy, or in the year after birth, will be able to get the support and care they need while also continuing to be with their baby.
Rose Waters, Specialist Services Manager said “This is a really positive service development, which will enhance our existing perinatal mental health community service and will provide mothers who need an inpatient admission the opportunity to be admitted to a local unit with their baby, ensuring continued support from family and friends, which is vitally important; however we will of course be focusing every effort into proactive measures and alternatives to admission so that mums and their families are seen in the comfort of their own home wherever possible.”
The Trust has been advocating for an inpatient unit in Kent for some time and when preparing for the bid, Alison Corbett, MIMHS lead spoke with former and current patients to help inform the submission and give a personal emphasis on the need for a local inpatient service.
One local mum said: “I think a specialist inpatient facility for mums would be an amazing service to have in Kent. This is a brilliant opportunity as I feel there is a big need for it in Kent. There are many young families and post natal mental health problems can happen with any pregnancy…to have to travel far for care and away from family life is very stressful and could possible make the problems worse.”
Already working closely with perinatal services across Kent, the enhanced service will improve existing relationships with partners including maternity, obstetric and primary care services, to increase preventative measures helping people within communities across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
The current Mother and Infant Mental Health Community service hosts an annual conference – First Steps – which was developed to help educate midwives, health visitors, GPs, healthcare workers and other professionals on the importance of recognizing mental health needs during both the prenatal and postnatal period.
In 2016 the Mother and Infant Mental Health Community service was also successful in securing additional funding to allow an increase in community resources which will help the service reach an additional 598 women per year.
Executive Medical Director, Professor Catherine Kinane said: “We are delighted with the recent opportunities we’ve been provided with to help improve and increase our services for mums and their families across Kent, Surrey and Sussex. This is a fabulous opportunity which will allow us to reach out further and help people, all the while educating families about mental health.”
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust has been informed that it has been selected as the preferred bidder to provide the new mother and baby mental health unit in the South East following a procurement process by NHS England. Discussions about the arrangements for the awarding of the new contract and the mobilisation of the new service will subsequently take place with NHS England.