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Press Release

25 June 2008

PN HSSPS 10/08


Mother and baby services will come under scrutiny by the Health Committee on their visit to Southern General Hospital in Glasgow tomorrow. The fact finding visit will look at the Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit to see what lessons can be applied to services in Northern Ireland.

This follows evidence from local services which has underlined the lack of provision of perinatal psychiatry services in Northern Ireland.

The deputy chairperson of the Health Committee, Michelle O’Neill said, “The birth of a new child is a significant event for any family. It is a period of great joy but also of great stress. Mothers are at increased risk of depression or other psychiatric conditions.

“ Northern Ireland lags well behind the rest of the United Kingdom in the provision of perinatal psychiatry services. While there are well-developed services in other parts of the United Kingdom, including a number of mother-and-baby units, we have no recognised structure for the provision of mental health care in pregnancy. There is no specialist facility in Northern Ireland for the admission of mentally-ill mothers and their babies.”

The Committee will be bringing its findings back to the Assembly, making recommendations for improving services across Northern Ireland.


Notes to editors:

The Committee took evidence from Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Psychiatrists and others on 17 April about the lack of perinatal psychiatry services in Northern Ireland.

The Perinatal Mental Health Service in Glasgow provides services to women and families affected by severe mental illness during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth. The service includes a 6 bed / 6 cot regional Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit which provides suitable facilities for a woman with severe acute mental illness to be admitted for treatment, where it’s also in the best interests of her baby to come into hospital with her.

The visit will also include briefings on the overall mental health strategy in Scotland.

Committee Membership:
Mrs Iris Robinson MP (DUP) (Chairperson); Ms Michelle O’Neill (SF) (Deputy Chairperson); Mr Thomas Buchanan (DUP); Rev Dr Robert Coulter (UUP); Dr Kieran Deeny (IHC); Mr Alex Easton (DUP); Mr Tommy Gallagher (SDLP); Mrs Carmel Hanna (SDLP); Mr John McCallister (UUP); Ms Claire McGill (SF); Ms Sue Ramsey (SF)

Media Enquiries to:
Stephanie Mallon, Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office, Room B2, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX.
Tel No: 02890-521953. Fax: 02890 521961.
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