Call for perinatal mental health unit in North Wales

Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar has called for the Welsh Government to explore setting up a mother and baby unit in North Wales for mothers experiencing perinatal mental health problems.

In a debate in the Senedd this week, Darren said perinatal mental health services in North Wales are lacking and women in the region currently have to travel to Manchester to access services.

Speaking in the debate, Darren said:

“In terms of the mother and baby units, while there was agreement about need for a mother and baby unit in South Wales, there was a debate about North Wales because of the sparsity of the population. We were told that the only beds available at present - the nearest ones to those people in north Wales who need them - are over the border in Manchester. But rather than sending mums away from North Wales, I think it is important that the Welsh Government should actually give consideration to establishing a unit in the region which could be accessed by people from the north-west of England or elsewhere.

“Because it was quite obvious from the evidence that the fact that the unit in Manchester was so far away had discouraged them from using it, even though all of the evidence that we received pointed very clearly to the fact that there are much, much better outcomes for mums and for their children if a mother is admitted into an appropriate setting in a mother and baby unit rather than in an adult psychiatric ward and being separated from their child.”

“The predictability of the need, we were told by the statisticians, is pretty clear: there are always going to be, based on our population and birth rates, somewhere between 45 and 65 mums per year who are going to require admission into these sorts of wards. Now, because of the population in north Wales, we're talking very small numbers. We're talking a handful, a dozen at most, in the region that might need access to these things, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be trying to provide within the region if at all possible.”