I think the depression questionnaire needs to be compulsory and done at different times. At the five day check is important but at that point I was so sick and exhausted I didn’t recognise my own feelings. I’d like to see more care for mums during the first six months. – Postnatal care in the community is woefully sparse, what commitment is there to improve the quality and quantity of care for mothers in the first month, not just the first ten days?
CONSERVATIVE (The Rt Hon Grant Shapps) –
Midwives play a crucial role in supporting families during and after pregnancy. As the first point of contact for many mothers, we want to ensure that all midwives are better trained in perinatal mental health. That is why we are working with HEE to put a specific module focusing on perinatal mental health into midwife training to help them spot and respond to signs of mental health problems at any stage during pregnancy and after child birth.
For far too long postnatal mental health care has been neglected. As Minister for Mental Health, I have seen the damage this has done and that’s why I worked hard to make sure that in the last budget we allocated funds to start putting this right. £50m has been allocated for this year and the next. And we will carry on investing and putting prevention at the top of the agenda, with £250m additional funding over five years to transform mental health care for pregnant women, new mothers and those who have experienced the heartbreak of miscarriage or still birth.
We also want to make sure that everyone in touch with mental health services is getting the best, most effective support we can provide. So we have also committed to establishing a world-leading mental health research fund, with an investment of £50m, to support cutting edge research to further our understanding of mental illness, and the most effective interventions and treatments.
GREEN PARTY (Jillian Creasy) – Thank you for sharing your story. We believe the most effective way to help mums over the first six months, and to make sure that depression does not go unnoticed, is to have a trusted, named, midwife and health visitor and an approachable GP who keeps in touch. Midwives should keep in touch for the first 6 weeks, and then hand over to a Health Visitor, highlighting mothers in special need for extra attention. Our manifesto specifically commits to increasing funding for mental health, too, with special attention for mothers during and after pregnancy, which could include Community Psychiatric Nurses and counsellors with an interest in postnatal depression and care. We will make sure that no one has to wait more than 28 days to access talking therapies, and wherever possible less. Far too many people are struggling along without getting the help they need, leading to crises which could have been prevented. The Green Party will increase funding to the NHS by £12 billion a year, to make improvements like this possible.
TUSC (Hannah Sell) – We agree that post-natal care is really sparse and this can only be rectified by increasing resources. We reiterate that intervention at this key juncture at the very start of a child’s life is worth the investment and will pay dividends over the long term. Midwives are only involved with new mothers for days post birth and their length of involvement with babies and parents should last until the parents feel confident that they can competently manage the care of their newborn. In other words the input of the midwife should be guided far more by the wishes and needs of the parent and arbitrary limits should be removed. Services need to be adequately resourced and flexible enough to accommodate this.
There should be investment in a programme of specialist training for gp’s and midwives so that they can speedily recognise and treat the symptoms of post-natal depression before the mother and baby reach a stage where the risk of harm to mother or child escalates. More robust links need to be established between mental health services, children’s services and post-natal care so that midwives have easy access to refer parents to services for assessment and input.
There are not enough perinatal nurses involved with mothers who have a diagnosis of mental illness and this service needs to be expanded.
There needs to be a huge programme to expand ‘sure start’, 1 O’Clock clubs and other community schemes to support parents and children from 0-5 years. Mothers who need time out should be entitled to access this for several hours a day if she wishes and she should be able to leave her child in a properly regulated, free, state funded crèche facility and feel confident that her child is safe, content and learning through play. These services would help to relieve some of the stress of parenting, protect parents against social isolation and prevent the onset and exacerbation of post-natal depression.
We acknowledge how difficult it is for mothers and would increase the number of district and community nurses, making sure that care is available for those who need it. We would also integrate health and social care, making services more streamlines and effective. This would put the patient at the heart of our health and social care system, putting an end to the top-down approach that currently stands.
Providing the highest quality maternity care both before, during and after birth is one of the key priorities for the SNP Scottish government and they are committed to ensuring that every woman gets the care that is right for them. We are committed to ensuring all women and their babies are provided with person centred, safe and effective postnatal care, with a named midwife for a minimum of 10 days post birth.