Specialist mental health staff will be available at every birthing unit in the UK by 2017, the government’s nursing and midwifery minister has announced.
Dan Poulter said it is crucial to give pregnant women and new mothers better emotional support and not just physical care.
He told Daybreak that between 10% and 15% of women suffer from mental illness while carrying a baby or after giving birth.
“We do very well looking after women in a physical sense but we need to do more to look after women’s mental health. It’s not just about postnatal depression but providing support to women throughout their pregnancy.”
Dr Poulter said the government will ensure that by 2017 every maternity unit will have staff trained to give specialist mental health care to vulnerable women.
He added: “It’s important we do invest in more support and specialist team members. We want to make sure we take a holistic view towards all health care and look after people’s mental health.”
It comes after an Office for National Statistics report highlighted a shortage of midwives and consultants on labour wards.
During 2012 there was a shortfall of around 2,300 midwives, the authors said.
More than half of units were not meeting the levels of consultant presence recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
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