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RQIA Calls for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services Across Northern Ireland

RQIA has just published the findings of its Review of Perinatal Mental Health Services in Northern Ireland, which examined the implementation of the Integrated Perinatal Mental Health Care Pathway, developed by the Public Health Agency in 2012. 

RQIA’s review team found that all HSC trusts had implemented and adapted this Pathway, providing guidance to their staff on local arrangements for responding to with mental health needs associated with pregnancy or the postnatal period.

While the Belfast Trust provides a small scale specialist perinatal mental health service, there is no regional Mother and Baby Unit inpatient provision in Northern Ireland, or indeed in the Republic of Ireland.  RQIA recommends that specialist perinatal mental health services - with psychological input - should be developed in each trust, and a single regional Mother and Baby Unit should be established.

In the absence of such a unit, HSC trusts should provide facilities within general adult psychiatric inpatient units to meet the needs of a mother and her family.

During this review RQIA engaged with women from across Northern Ireland with mild, moderate and severe perinatal mental ill health, to hear first-hand about their care experiences.  Many told us that they did not receive the right service, by the right professional, at the right time.  Others highlighted that the significance of their symptoms and associated risks were not always recognised by their GP or other professionals. 

RQIA believes that the implementation of this report’s recommendations can ensure the provision of services that addresses the needs of everyone in Northern Ireland with perinatal mental ill health.  You can read the review report here.