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House of Commons Hansard
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Perinatal Mental Health
08 May 2018
Volume 640
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7. What support GPs provide to mothers experiencing perinatal mental health problems. [905164]

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We are committed to improving mental health support for expectant and new mothers, and GPs are crucial to that. We recognise that specialist services are also required, and I am proud to announce today that NHS England will be spending £23 million on rolling out the second wave of community perinatal services to underserved parts of the country and is on course to achieve full geographic coverage by 2020-21.

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Given that 95% of mums surveyed by the NCT said that they had experienced mental health problems, that only 22% said they were even asked about this by their GP and that only 24% of the country has any specialist provision, what more does the Minister think she ought to be doing?

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The second wave roll-out will cover the entire geographical spread of the country. This is a transformational programme, so, by definition, it will take time to roll out, but I agree with the hon. Lady that GPs do have a role to play in this. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends postnatal checks for mothers, and NHS England expects commissioners to undertake that those guidelines are being met. As for any further support by GPs, she will be aware that there is a renegotiation of the GP contract and it will be covered there.

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Some young people are mothers and do have mental health problems, upon which important matter the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) has Question 19, which, sadly, will not be reached. If she wishes to give the House the benefit of her thoughts now, she is most welcome to do so, but it is not obligatory. [Interruption.] We will get her in later.

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Given that children of mothers with perinatal health problems are at much higher risk of developing mental health problems themselves, why does the Government’s Green Paper on mental health not address prevention in respect of perinatal health?

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As I have said before, the proposals in the Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health were very much focused on what we were going to be delivering through schools. Alongside that, we have a very ambitious programme on perinatal mental health, where we are spending an extra £365 million on delivering both acute care and more support in the community. Today, I have just announced the second wave of that funding.

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Back in 2010, we had 19 mother and baby units across this country, but cuts to those beds resulted in our then having 15 mother and baby units. Back in November 2016, the Government said we were going to see more beds opened. I listened closely to the statement the Minister has just made, but we are still waiting for beds that were announced back in November 2016. What are her Government going to do to ensure that mothers and babies will be kept together and can access the beds they desperately need?

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I do not accept what the hon. Lady is saying. We are investing in new mother and baby units and making sure we have sufficiently good provision geographically so that mothers and babies can access them. We are also investing in more support in the community. I am pleased that the programme we are delivering, which is £365 million of additional support, will deliver early intervention for young mothers and babies.