Posted: Mon 27th Jun 2022

NSPCC Calls for more Perinatal mental health support for mothers across Wales as specialist unit celebrates first anniversary

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jun 27th, 2022

A year ago, Uned Gobaith (Unit of Hope) Mother and Baby Unit near Neath opened its doors to provide specialist inpatient care for the first time for women in Wales who experience serious mental health problems in pregnancy or after the birth of their child.

While celebrating the achievements of the last year NSPCC Cymru/Wales is calling for more perinatal support in Wales at an event today, so that parents can access specialist services when needed, wherever they live in the country.

MBUs are designed to keep mothers and babies together, which is important for the mum and the family but also for the baby as those first 1,000 days of a person’s life are vital for their development.

NSPCC Cymru/Wales and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance say the unit, currently the only one in Wales, has made a real difference to women and their families. Now the two organisations are calling for all mums across Wales to be able to access vital MBU provision if they experience a serious perinatal mental health problem. Together, they urge the Welsh Government to ensure there is clarity about a permanent MBU provision in South Wales and to fulfil its commitment to establishing a unit for families in North Wales.

Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Senior Policy Researcher at NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “Mother and Baby Units can be a lifesaving service. The opening of Uned Gobaith lwas a really important step forward in providing vital inpatient support for women and their families in Wales experiencing severe perinatal mental health problems.

“Today is a celebration of all the hard work and commitment of those working in and with Uned Gobaith to make a real difference to women and families in its first year.

“While we must recognise the progress that has been made in establishing this interim mother and baby unit, gaps still remain and more must be done in Wales to make sure all parents can access specialist perinatal mental health services when they need it.

“We now need to ensure there is clarity about a permanent mother and baby unit in South Wales, and that plans to develop a mother and baby unit for families from North Wales come to fruition. We want to see a clear timeline from Welsh Government for the completion of this service.”

Karen Middleton, Campaign Manager at the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said: “Today’s event will showcase what a powerful difference the Mother and Baby Unit in South Wales has made to the lives of women, babies and families impacted by the most severe perinatal mental health problems.

“It is crucial that all women who need specialist mental health treatment during pregnancy and the postnatal period can access this care. We ask that the Welsh Government listen to the first-hand accounts of staff and beneficiaries and make permanent, sustainable plans for families across Wales.”

Kirsten Pearce, Ward Manager at Uned Gobaith, said: “The journey that everyone has been on has been incredibly rewarding and inspirational: Seeing a new team of professionals from different disciplines come together to create and develop this amazing and much needed service in Wales, and seeing the patients who have spent time on the unit and have been able to stay with their babies continue their role as mum/parent without interruption and have made their way to recovery and home. The feedback we have received from these women, their families and other professionals involved in their care has been a truly powerful experience for us all.

“The foundations for Uned Gobaith have been laid, but we are confident that the service will continue to develop while always keeping the parents, babies and their families at its heart, providing the specialist care to support and protect the parent-infant relationship and treatment for perinatal mental illness.”

The event, which will hear directly from some women with lived experience of staying at Uned Gobaith, showcases how the unit has supported women and families affected by severe perinatal mental health problems in its first year. It will highlight the development of the unit, its achievements and challenges across the year, and the difference it has made to families across Wales.

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