In response to new NICE guidance on antenatal and postnatal mental health, Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser, NCT, said:
“NCT welcomes these guidelines but we question how they will be put into practice given the huge gaps in perinatal mental health services, exposed by our recent research. The Government and NHS need to take immediate action to broaden service provision and ensure it is consistent.
“It is often difficult for new parents to talk openly about their mental health and this can be damaging for families. In extreme cases, this can lead to the loss of life. We urgently need to see an increase in specialist services, such as mothers and baby units, and better training for health practitioners to make sure no new parent suffers alone.”
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A recent NCT survey of 186 Clinical Commissioning Groups in England found clear gaps in the provision of care for maternal mental health with only 3% reporting they had a perinatal mental health strategy. Out of the 97% with no strategy, 60% had no plans to put one in place.
On 21 February 2014 NCT sent Freedom of Information requests to 194 CCGs in England and 186 replied. The charity also contacted 193 NHS trusts to ask if they were able to provide a perinatal mental health service with trained specialists: http://www.nct.org.uk/press-release/new-foi-data-finds-huge-gaps-provision-care-perinatal-mental-health