Medical Negligence

Additional wellbeing checks could help new mothers

November 3, 2022
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Written by Medical Negligence Solicitor Jennifer Argent

NHS England have just announced an initiative for new mothers, granting a physical and mental health assessment six weeks after they have given birth.

From April, an estimated 600,000 mothers will undergo an assessment on their own health and wellbeing.

In total, around £12 million of additional funding will be made available, with the usual six to eight-week GP appointments set to continue.

Identifying key concerns for new mothers

The six-week check will monitor mothers and their newborn babies to identify good health and spot irregularities.

In response, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, NICE, believe ‘the woman’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing’ will become safer.

A spokesperson for the health body added the scheme offers new hope in identifying patterns between post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Prior to the announcement, practitioners said they were ‘running out of time’, to assess the needs of new mothers during postnatal appointments.

Consequently, multiple health officials are welcoming the announcement and believe the initiative will create more time for practitioners and lead to faster treatment.

In an interview with the Guardian, Dr Nikita Kanani, a London GP and the NHS’s medical director for primary care, said:

“There are over 600,000 births every year in England and ensuring new mums and their babies have the best start is a key commitment of the NHS long-term plan.

“This addition to the contract will allow time and space for new mums to discuss their physical and mental health needs and is extremely welcome.”

Who is behind the new mother and baby checks initiative?

The British Medical Journal and numerous MPs are behind this new postnatal drive.

Previously, The National Childbirth Trust put a great deal of pressure on NHS officials and MPs.

They fought to introduce postnatal checks after their own research found ‘almost half of new mothers’ mental health problems (42%) were not being identified by health professionals.

In addition, the trust reported that many mothers’ health concerns were overlooked because their babies’ health appeared more important.

Speaking to the media this month, Angela McConville, the NCT’s Chief Executive said:

“It’s fantastic news that NHS England has responded to our calls for better postnatal mental health checks. This is a huge step forward and means more new mothers will be supported to talk about their mental health problems and get the help they need,”

Although both mother and baby were meant to be checked during these appointments, examining the baby was a contractual obligation, but the same could not be said for mothers.

Consequently, the mothers’ health assessments did not happen, or if they did, weren’t carried out as thoroughly as they should be.

Overall, this change can only be welcomed, and will no doubt help many mums who need care in a difficult time in their lives.

Jennifer Argent is an experienced Medical Negligence solicitor at Fletchers Serious Injury, specialists in medical negligence and serious personal injuries for over 30 years.

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