New Mothers Not Getting the Support They Need

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) have released figures which show that new mothers with postnatal depression are being let down by the NHS.

The NCT sent out freedom of information (FOI) requests to all 194 clinical commissioning groups (CCG) in the UK and this is what they found.

- 97% of CCGs had no adequate mental health strategy for new mothers

- 60% admitted that there were no plans to put a mental health strategy in place for new mothers

- Only 14% of trusts employed a specialist postnatal mental health worker, and these usually worked part time

- 33 of the CCGs did not respond to the FOI request

One in Ten New Mothers Have Postnatal Depression

Since 1 in 10 new mothers suffer from postnatal depression the figures above show just how much the NHS are letting them down. The NCT has called on trusts to ‘urgently’ tackle the gaps in postnatal care. 15% of the CCGs directed the FOI request to the local NHS trust, indicating that there is a lack of clarity over where the responsibility lies for these services, which could be adding to the problem.

The NCT are trying to prevent a series of medical negligence claims by making the lack of postnatal mental health services known so that trusts are able to improve upon them. There are areas where midwives, GPs and health visitors are not equipped with the training they would need to give new mothers the support they need, so there is no way for these mothers can access postnatal mental health services if they need them. Time is also a problem, as these health professionals are already spread so thinly.

Belinda Phipps, NCT chief executive, said: “While we found some areas with excellent care, too often we have found situations where there is no care, or very little care.... We need to see properly staffed and resourced services with clear lines of responsibility and clear targets for delivery.”

Depression is a crippling illness, even more so when you have to look after a newborn baby. A lack of resources to help these mothers can affect a child’s well being, and result in the break down of families: in the most severe cases it can also result in the loss of a life. If new mothers are given the support they need then postnatal depression is caught early enough to treat it so that mother and baby are able to lead normal, healthy lives.

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