The NHS Long Term Plan renewed the NHS’s commitment to transformation in specialist perinatal mental health services, to ensure that all women who can benefit are able to access care. This included a commitment to develop and implement maternal mental health services (referred to in the Long Term Plan as maternity outreach clinics) in every area of the country by 2023/24.
Maternal mental health services will combine maternity, reproductive health and psychological therapy for women experiencing moderate to severe or complex mental health difficulties directly arising from, or related to, their maternity experience. This may include those who experience post-traumatic stress disorder following birth trauma, perinatal loss or severe fear of childbirth (tokophobia).
This ambition will contribute to the overall commitment for perinatal mental health in the Long Term Plan and the Mental health implementation plan to enable at least 66,000 women with moderate to severe perinatal mental health difficulties to access specialist care by 2023/24.
In July 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement launched a call for proposals, making £11.3 million per year available for the development and testing of maternal mental health services during 2020/21 and 2021/22. Sustainability and transformation partnership footprints and integrated care systems were invited to submit proposals for the testing and development of a maternal mental health service in their area, either as an early implementer or fast follower.
The early implementers sites will begin delivering care in spring 2021 and the fast follower sites in the coming months. The services should treat up to 6,000 women across the country over the next 18 months. There will be pilot sites in every region of England.
All proposals were assessed by expert panels including specialist clinicians and women with lived experience of perinatal mental illness.
21 sites across the country have now been selected to develop and test models for maternal mental health services in their area, either as an early implementer or fast follower. These include:
Birmingham and Solihull
Shropshire Telford and Wrekin
|East of England
Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes
Norfolk and Waveney
South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw
North Central London
North East London
North West London
Lancashire and South Cumbria
Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire
Hampshire and Isle of Wight
Kent and Medway
Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire