Waiting times for perinatal mental health care in England rise sharply

There is alarm among campaigners as new analysis shows a sharp increase in the time new or expectant mothers have to wait for mental health care, with one woman found to have waited 319 days for a first appointment.

More than 30,000 women who are pregnant or have newly given birth are on waiting lists for mental health support, according to NHS England data analysed by Labour, with the party saying many of them were being left to “suffer in silence”.

Amid rising demand for what are known as perinatal mental health services, during the period from August 2022 to March 2023 the numbers of women waiting rose by 40%. Over that same period, the numbers who accessed support also rose, but only by 8%.

The research follows recent warnings about the problem from groups such as the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), about not just resourcing but also clarity over long-term funding, plus staffing levels and a lack of parity for the mental health side of pregnancy care.

Full story in The Guardian, 4 September 2023