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RCOG statement on mental health funding pledge in Budget statement

News 19 March 2015

The RCOG welcomes the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2015 Budget, pledging an additional £75 million over the next five years to give the right care to more women who experience ill mental health during the perinatal or antenatal period.

The recognition in the Budget, that young people are at risk of developing mental health problems as a consequence of maternal mental illness, was reinforced by the publication yesterday of Falling Through The Gaps: Perinatal Mental Health And General Practice, a report by the Royal College of General Practitioners and Centre For Mental Health.

The report highlights the significant impact of perinatal mental health problems, which affect up to 20% of women at some point during pregnancy and for the first year after birth, with around 15% of women experiencing common mental health problems such as perinatal depression and anxiety.

Dr. David Richmond, RCOG President, says: “We welcome the Treasury’s announcement that £75m will be spent on improving care for pregnant women with mental health illness. What is clear is that a multidisciplinary approach is needed between health and social care professionals, so that timely diagnosis and referral can occur. We applaud the Maternal Mental Health Alliance for putting this on the Government’s agenda.

“The report by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has highlighted that women with mental health illness often feel shame or stigma and therefore do not disclose to their GPs that have a problem. Similarly, healthcare professionals may not have enough time during consultations or may not feel confident about broaching the subject. We know that the consequences can be very poor not just for the mother but also for the baby.

For this reason, it is important that all GP surgeries, trusts and community clinics follow the advice in the NICE guidelines on early identification and intervention so that women are supported throughout their pregnancy journey and beyond.”

In our joint General Election Manifesto, the RCOG and FSRH are calling on the Government to provide better linkages between women’s healthcare and mental health and social care services. View our General Election Manifesto 2015