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HSE launches new Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Model of Care

The Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mr Jim Daly, TD, has today, Thursday, November 30th, launched the new HSE Model of Care for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health in Ireland. Recognising the importance of Perinatal Mental Health, the HSE placed a particular focus on the development of a distinct model of care over the past year.

A national working group chaired by Dr. Margo Wrigley, the then National Clinical Advisor and Clinical Programmes Group Lead Mental Health led out on this project and the model of care now being implemented is the culmination of the work of that group.

Explaining perinatal mental health and the importance of this new model of care, Dr. Wrigley said: “Perinatal mental health disorders are those which complicate pregnancy (antenatal) and the first postnatal year.”

“They include both new onset and a relapse or reoccurrence of pre-existing disorders. Their unique aspect is their potential to affect the relationship between mother, child and family unit with consequent later development of significant emotional and behavioural difficulties in the child. This Model of Care considers the specialist (secondary and tertiary care) component of an overall perinatal mental health service.”

“In developing our model of care we were very much focused on the needs of women, infants and their families. We looked at the relevant national and international research and evidence based practice and standards.

“While the focus of this specialist service will be women with moderate to severe mental illness, it will play a central role in educating and training all involved in the delivering of services to women during the antenatal and postnatal periods.”

In each of the HSE’s Hospital Groups the maternity service with the highest number of deliveries becomes the designated hub.

Hub Hospitals are:

  • RCSI Hospital Group – Rotunda Hospital
  • Ireland East – National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street
  • Dublin Midlands - Coombe Women and Infants University Maternity Hospital
  • University of Limerick – University Maternity Hospital Limerick
  • South/Southwest – Cork University Maternity Hospital
  • Saolta – Galway University Hospital

Each hub within a hospital group should have a specialist perinatal mental health service. Its staffing will be multidisciplinary and led by a consultant psychiatrist in perinatal psychiatry. In the remaining maternity units (13) the liaison psychiatry team will continue to provide the input to the maternity service. This team will be linked to the hub specialist perinatal mental health teams for advice, regular meetings, training and education.

This Model of Care supports the seven actions on mental health to be implemented by the HSE’s National Women and Infants Health Programme outlined in Ireland’s first National Maternity Strategy, launched by the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD last year.

Speaking at today’s launch, HSE National Director for Mental Health Services, Ms. Anne O’Connor stressed the importance of this new Model of Care: “This model of care provides for an integrated comprehensive specialist mental health service for women in Ireland with moderate to severe mental health problems regardless of where they are based. The Mental Health Division will work with the National Women and Infants Health Programme in its implementation of the overall perinatal clinical pathway designed and recommended by the Model of Care. This will ensure that women with milder mental health problems will be both identified and receive appropriate help from skilled staff at primary care level in the community and within maternity services.

“This is truly an integrated, evidence based Model of Care and it acknowledges how significant these issues can be but equally how manageable they can be too.”

The new Model of Care can be accessed here.

Last updated on: 30 / 11 / 2017