Lack of suitable mental health services for pregnant and new mothers in north Wales is forcing mothers to be admitted to psychiatric wards without their babies.
Plaid Cymru AM for Arfon Sian Gwenllian says that mothers in north Wales are suffering ‘geographical inequality’ and were having to travel far to access specialist provisions or were treated in psychiatric units within Wales without their babies. The AM has asked the health minister and minister for north Wales to interfere to establish a comprehensive NHS Wales perinatal service in the north of Wales and to move ahead urgently with the all -Wales Mother and Baby unit that was promised 18 months ago.
Sian Gwenllian AM questioned the Health Minister Vaughan Gething during the Children, Young People and Education committee last week and will be raising the matter with the First minister during First Minister’s Questions tomorrow.
Mr Gething replied that it was ‘a matter of concern’ and noted that the Government was looking at investing in ‘ensuring better parity of service across the country.’
Plaid Cymru AM for Arfon and Plaid’s shadow Minister for Children, Sian Gwenllian said:
“The perinatal mental health services in north Wales are inadequate and patchy and mothers currently have to travel far to access any form of specialist care or can only access care in psychiatric units without their babies or partners.
“Mothers in north Wales are suffering from geographical inequality. Currently, six women have been admitted to the acute psychiatric patients unit without their babies. This is neither sustainable nor fair.
“The Health Minister has said that there is ‘not enough demand’ to establish a Mother and Baby Unit in north Wales and that discussions are ongoing with NHS England. But there is still no agreement on the way forward.
“If NHS England is not ready to come to an agreement then NHS Wales must create its own service in the north of Wales.
“The Health Minister and the new minister for north Wales, Ken Skates, now need to interfere to ensure that an all-Wales Mother and Baby unit is set up as a matter of urgency whilst also ensuring that all mothers in Wales have access to the same level of care when suffering mental health problems during pregnancy or when their babies are very small. Suicides within this particular mental health category are on the increase and we must do all we can to support pregnant and new mothers and their babies and families. The current delays and inequalities are simply not acceptable.”