New mother and baby unit for Northern Ireland after years of campaigning

Northern Ireland news, Press release
14 November 2023

RCPsych in Northern Ireland has welcomed the news that Belfast City Hospital has been identified as the location for a new mother and baby unit.

For more than five years the College has been campaigning for a new unit as perinatal services for new and expectant mums lagged behind the rest of the UK.

As well as a new unit for new and expectant mothers, all five health trusts in Northern Ireland now have community perinatal mental health teams in place.

But the College is now calling on politicians to get back around the table to form a government at Stormont so funding can be put in place for these vital mental health services.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Judith O’Neill, chair of the Perinatal Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland, said:

“We very much welcome this announcement after years of campaigning.

“We traditionally lagged behind the rest of the UK when it came to perinatal mental health services and new and expectant mothers deserved much better.

“While the roll-out of community perinatal mental health services and a new mother and baby unit is a good step forward, we must not be complacent.

“We now need a government to be put back into place at Stormont, so the new unit and wider mental health workforce can be properly funded.”

Department of Health Permanent Secretary Peter May said:

“I am delighted with the progress that has been achieved on implementing the community perinatal mental health service across the region over the last 12 months and to see the commitment each team has given to making the service a success.

“The Belfast Trust will now begin to prepare a business case for the proposed regional unit on the Belfast City Hospital site. While this is a very positive step, the reality is that we are operating in a very challenging financial situation.

“For this reason, timescales for delivery of the unit are dependent on being able to identify the funding required to build and run the new facility.”

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