New unit to open in Norwich for mothers with mental health problems

A specialist unit for new mothers with serious mental health problems is set to open in Norwich. Pic

A specialist unit for new mothers with serious mental health problems is set to open in Norwich. Picture Katie Collins/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

A specialist unit for new mothers with serious mental health problems is set to open in Norwich.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has been awarded £4m in funding to develop the inpatient unit at Hellesdon Hospital.

The funding from the Department of Health comes in addition to the £2.8m in revenue funding which NSFT will receive annually to deliver the new service.

The additional money will be spent on renovating Kingfisher House at Hellesdon Hospital to turn it into an eight-bed mother and baby unit for the region.

Due to open in early 2019, the unit will allow mother and babies to stay together while the mum receives care for conditions such as severe postnatal depression, serious anxiety disorders and postpartum psychosis, which causes hallucinations and can severely disrupt perception and behaviour. It will also accept women in late pregnancy who require acute psychiatric inpatient care.

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Julie Cave, Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive from NSFT, said: 'We are really pleased to receive this national funding, which will help us ensure mothers and their new babies can get the best possible care closer to home. It is a significant investment which shows that NHS England has real confidence in our plans.

'The MBU will provide vital and potentially life-changing care to new mothers with serious mental health problems, and will mean they can receive the psychiatric support they need without having to travel elsewhere.'

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The unit will be one of just four across the country commissioned by NHS England as part of its investment into improving access to specialist treatment for new mothers in regional areas with the most limited inpatient services. It will take referrals from across the region and country.

The unit will be staffed by a variety of trained specialists including peer support workers will also offer support and practical help.

A range of therapeutic services will be available including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, along with help with bonding and attachment.

Clive Rennie, Assistant Director Integrated Commissioning (Mental Health and Learning Disabilities) with Norfolk's CCGs, said: 'This is a major development for healthcare provision in Norfolk and in the eastern region.

'Following extensive work undertaken by staff at NSFT to gain this additional funding, women with severe mental health issues and their babies will be able to be treated in a local setting close to their families.'

The new unit will complement NSFT's new Community Perinatal Mental Health Service, which began seeing cases in April and will be fully operational by September. The service cares for pregnant women and new mothers with serious mental health difficulties, as well as providing support for the rest of the family.

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