Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System has been successful in securing funding for a new maternal mental health service which will begin to be made available from next year.

For the first time, there will be specific mental health therapies available for women with moderate and severe mental health difficulties following the loss of their baby or any trauma related to their maternity experience. The service will be available from preconception, for women who have suffered trauma from a previous pregnancy, until 24 months after birth for those who may be experiencing mental ill-health such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by a traumatic birth.

Vicky Williams, Associate Director for Women and Children’s Services, said: “One in four women experience mental health problems in pregnancy and during the 24 months after giving birth so this funding will give our maternity mental health offer in Surrey a real boost. It’s so important that women are given the support they need either to cope with the loss of their baby or to help connect with their baby during their first weeks and months so they have the best possible start in life.”

The service will be provided by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Abigail Crutchlow, Perinatal Clinical Lead for the Perinatal Mental Health Service, said: “I’m delighted we have the opportunity to launch this service and are able to support those women experiencing loss and trauma during or after pregnancy”.

Initially the service will be available to women who have used maternity services at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and the Royal Surrey Hospital. It is planned to scale-up the service to cover the whole of Surrey during 2022/23. Surrey Heartlands was selected as one of the Fast Follower sites for the new service by NHS England and NHS Improvement as part of the national programme.

Across England at least 66,000 women will have access to specialist perinatal community mental health care – spanning preconception to 24 months after birth – by 2023/24. The consequences of not accessing high quality perinatal mental health care at the time of need are estimated to cost the NHS and social care £1.2 billion per year.