New Perinatal Bursary Scheme will help mothers seeking specialist mental health services

Press release
29 March 2017

Thousands of mothers will benefit from improved specialist perinatal mental health services, as the Royal College of Psychiatrist, NHS England and Health Education England today announces funding to support 10 new perinatal psychiatrists in areas currently lacking this specialist care.

A bursary scheme will fund training in perinatal mental health for psychiatrists who are already consultants in other areas of psychiatry.

These newly trained perinatal consultants will then go on to lead new Perinatal Mental Health services in their local area.

Although one in five mothers suffers with perinatal mental health issues during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth, more than 40% of local areas do not currently provide any effective specialist community perinatal services.

The scheme will support increased access for mothers needing specialist treatment across England.

Dr Liz McDonald, Clinical Lead at the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the project said: ‘‘I am delighted to be part of this innovative project, which will make a huge difference to new mothers experiencing mental health problems.

Many women struggling with mental health problems currently have to travel long distances with their babies to receive the help they need.

When they can’t get support in the community or access in-patient Mother and Baby Units, new mothers are separated from their babies and admitted to local psychiatric wards alone, during a very important time for the mother’s developing relationship with her baby.

The bursaries will develop key clinical and leadership skills to help tackle this issue by addressing the current patchy service provision across England.

Perinatal mental health services will also be more sustainable as these highly skilled psychiatrists go on to train other psychiatrists in areas of need. Wider teams of staff who are key to providing mothers with the right support, including midwives, GPs, psychiatric nurses, psychologists and obstetricians will benefit from the local expertise of qualified perinatal psychiatrists.”

Dr Zeyn Green-Thompson, winner of the perinatal bursary in Cambridgeshire said: “I’m the lead liaison psychiatrist onsite at a maternity hospital, but we send patients as far as Watford or the Bethlehem in South London for specialist perinatal treatment.

The mothers, fathers and babies of the East of England deserve a seamless end to end service to provide some stability and reassurance during what is often a frightening period. Without skills, we cannot provide a specialist service. This bursary will give me the skills to play a leading part in delivering perinatal services in an area where there is currently nothing.”

Each bursary winner is a qualified consultant psychiatrist and will gain clinical expertise from a “mentor” established perinatal mental health service. The aim is to enable them to provide long term clinical expertise, train others and develop a specialist Perinatal Mental Health service.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health made perinatal mental health a priority, aiming for 30,000 more women across England accessing high quality specialist treatment, closer to home, when they need it by 2020/21.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists was commissioned by NHS England and Health Education England to deliver the Building Capacity, Psychiatry Leadership in Perinatal Mental Health Services project to support these improvements in care and access and develop clinical leadership in this vital area.


Notes to editors

Perinatal mental health services

Specialist perinatal mental health services work to support women with mental health problems during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, usually up to one year after delivery. Promoting emotional and physical wellbeing of the infant, as well as the mother, is central to perinatal mental health services.

Perinatal mental health problems include a range of disorders and severities, including antenatal and postnatal depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and postpartum psychosis.
Costs of perinatal mental ill health are estimated at £8.1 billion for each annual birth cohort, or almost £10,000 per birth. 72% of this relates to adverse impacts on the child.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Faculty works to support the rapid growth in excellent perinatal mental health services, workforce and public engagement to ensure that perinatal services, education and research translate directly into to improved patient care.

About the Royal College of Psychiatrists

We are the professional medical body responsible for supporting over 18,000 psychiatrists in the UK and internationally.
We set standards and promote excellence in psychiatry and mental healthcare.
We lead, represent and support psychiatrists nationally and internationally to governments and other agencies.
We aim to improve the outcomes of people with mental illness, and the mental health of individuals, their families and communities. We do this by working with patients, carers and other organisations interested in delivering high quality mental health services.

For more information please contact:
Louise Forsyth
Web: Twitter: @rcpsych

About NHS England

NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England – setting the priorities and direction, encouraging and informing the national debate to improve health and care.

The NHS in England deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours and employs more than 1.5 million people, putting it in the top five of the world’s largest workforces NHS England shares out more than £100 billion in funds and holds organisations to account for spending this money effectively for patients and efficiently for the tax payer. It strongly believes in health and high quality care for all, now and for future generations.

Contact Health Education England (HEE) via:

For further information, please contact: