What will be done to improve the consistency of pre and postnatal mental health care throughout the UK?
There certainly is too much variation in the system at the moment but the problem is we don’t have enough information about who is doing a good job and who isn’t. That is why we have asked the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University to develop a perinatal mental health outcome indicator for the NHS. This will be used to ensure we know how well hospitals are performing. This information can then be used to share best practice and learning and improve consistency throughout the country.
We want to make sure that wherever you are in the country, pregnant women and new mothers can get the specialist mental health support they need to keep them and their families safe and well. That’s why the additional £250m we have pledged over the next 5 years will be targeted at improving and expanding services, spreading good practice, improving staff training, and ending the postcode lottery that mothers currently face.
The Green Party would set national standards of care to make sure that no part of the country is left behind, but we would let local areas to work out the best way of achieving them, because we believe that health professionals are best placed to determine how they should work. Staff in the health service are tired of constant reorganisation which does not always listen to them as experts. Our substantial investments in mental health will make sure that it catches up with physical health in terms of status and funding by the end of the next five-year Parliament. We say five years because it will take time to train all the new staff which are needed. The Green Party is also completely opposed to the introduction of market mechanisms and privatisation into our healthcare services, which put service standards at risk and could mean the introduction of charges for more NHS services, as well as wasting money that could be spent on helping patients. We will fight for a fully publicly funded, publicly managed NHS, free at the point of use for all.
TUSC (Hannah Sell) –
There are nationwide inconsistencies in perinatal care and our approach would involve bringing all services up the standard of the best perinatal services in the country. We would support services to seek feedback from families of what they found helpful and supportive and assist services to act on the findings. Commissioners in areas where services are identified as lacking would have increased powers to draw on the necessary funding to improve things. Funding would be provided for professionals from across the country to meet in health conferences to have access to the latest research findings to further improve on existing perinatal services and to share best practice.
Integrating health and social care in Wales would ensure consistency and cut bureaucracy across the board.