NHS England invest £3million in North West London’s Perinatal Mental Health Community Services


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On 26 November, NHS England awarded almost £3m for a Perinatal Mental Health Community Service across the London Boroughs of Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.

The investment is over three years, with most invested in the years 2017 to 2019 (to give time to mobilise the new service).

The award comes after a successful joint bid from Central and North West London Foundation Trust (CNWL) and the North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Nationally, suicide is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths. At least one in ten women is affected by mental disorders in the perinatal period and 5% will experience a major depressive episode.

Across five North West London boroughs, there are four maternity units with over 20,000 births each year. Across North West London there is limited or no perinatal provision and often only covers six months after the birth.

NHS England’s Perinatal Mental Health Community Services Development Fund has helped us to address this.

CNWL will deliver a specialist community perinatal mental health service (PMHS), which will work in maternity services, community and primary care services within the co-produced and agreed perinatal pathway. It will respond rapidly and address the risks to mothers and infants of perinatal illness.

CNWL will:

  • Enhance our service to cover preconception, through pregnancy and up to 12 months post-birth
  • Reduce variation in provision by transforming the existing, fragmented, borough based provision into a Trust-wide service
  • Extend the service across the five North West London boroughs, with links to the three covered by West London Mental Health Trust
  • Focus on prevention, early detection and diagnosis, and the delivery of prompt treatment
  • Provide services in the community in each borough
  • Our service model will use community assets to identify and support women and families. This includes third sector and faith groups, helping us to reach those in key risk groups
  • Provide training and supervision to non-perinatal specialists who are involved with supporting women and their families
  • Increase capacity and capability across the whole system, and also broaden the understanding of perinatal issues and the reach of the service.

CNWL as an existing provider of perinatal care

  • CNWL has significant experience and expertise in community and inpatient perinatal mental health, although there is variation in available commissioning budget which impacts on current models of care and access.
  • Their work includes the flagship Coombe Wood Mother and Baby Unit, enabling us to develop seamless pathways through to community perinatal services
  • They have infrastructure on which can be built on to deliver an enhanced community service, to deliver a better experience for more women and their families
  • They will build on existing capacity - within CNWL and externally to be efficient with resources.

The NHS England Letter says, “The standard of agreed proposals was high, and we look forward to the successful areas sharing their learning and best practice with regional and national colleagues via the perinatal mental health clinical networks. “

“We expect all funded areas to collect outcomes data, participate in evaluation and share experiences and learning regionally and nationally” (and) “Continued funding for years 2 and 3 will be dependent on you providing clear evidence of progress towards your commitments.”

“The national team are looking forward to supporting you in a successful service development which will significantly contribute towards the national priority of achieving equitable access to high quality perinatal mental health community care and interventions for women, their babies and families.”

Stephanie Bridger, Divisional Director for CNWL Child and Adolescent services said, “This is fabulous news; we are really excited by this! With this investment we will be able to offer earlier responses to women at a vulnerable time as well as offering advice and support to our partners in maternity care to identify those who might be at risk of ill health. It is a real opportunity to build more resilient and sustainable services over a period of time, as the money is over 3 years. And we’ll be taking on new staff too.”

Dr Fiona Butler, Chair, West London CCG said, “We’re delighted that this funding has been secured to help women and their families across NW London. The work that CNWL will be able to expand upon will really help to make a difference to women at one of the most vulnerable times for them and their families.”