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New care model for specialist perinatal mental health

A national working group chaired by Dr Margo Wrigley, the then National Clinical Advisor and Clinical Programmes Group Lead Mental Health led the project.

“Perinatal mental health disorders are those which complicate pregnancy (antenatal) and the first postnatal year,” said Dr Wrigley at the launch of the new model.

“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.”

The launch was also attended by the Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mr Jim Daly.

Explaining perinatal mental health and the importance of this new model of care, Dr. Wrigley said: “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.”

Under the new model in each of the HSE’s Hospital Groups the maternity service with the highest number of deliveries becomes the designated hub. The 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 and 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.

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