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New mum 'shut off' from family after traveling 100 miles for treatment

Credit: ITV CYMRU WALES

A mother from Cardiff says she was left isolated from her family after she had to travel over a hundred miles to receive specialist perinatal mental health treatment at an English mother and baby unit (MBU).

After a traumatic birth Katie Dean struggled with postnatal depression. She and daughter Matilda were offered a place at a MBU in Exeter where they stayed for seven months.

Credit: ITV CYMRU WALES

Being in Exeter I was shut off. I was shut off from my family. There was only so much they could do to travel up to see me. So for me it was a bubble. There was 24 hour help and it was what I needed but as time was going on I was losing contact with my family.

– Katie Dean

When it came time for Katie to leave the unit in Exeter, she found it hard to adjust from the care she received there to the mental health provision available in Cardiff.

Credit: ITV CYMRU WALES

MBUs offer specialist inpatient care to women with severe mental health issues in a place where they can stay with their newborn child.

Wales' last specialist mother and baby unit closed in Cardiff in 2013 and since then campaigners have been calling for one to be reopened.

The Welsh Government committed to opening a specialist unit two years ago but so far no provision has been established.

Campaigners say they are frustrated at the rate of progress being made.

It does seem that progress has been very slow. It is a complex thing to set up without a doubt. But now we’re looking at what an interim period should be - well, we should have looked at that two years ago.

– Simon Jones, Head of Policy & Influencing at Mind Cymru

We have been campaigning for a long time for improved perinatal mental health services in Wales including a specialist mother and baby unit. The Welsh Government is committed to establishing a unit and there are plans for a temporary unit to be set up before a permanent unit is established. We are though frustrated at the pace of progress and want to see that commitment matched with action. We have been assured that the funding and mechanism is in place so those charged with doing this now need to step up the pace.

– Helen Rogers, Director for Wales at the Royal College of Midwives

The Welsh Government says they have asked for mother and baby provision to be established in Wales.

The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee has been asked to establish mother and baby provision in Wales to enable mothers to access more intensive support when needed. We recently asked WHSSC to urgently explore interim provision whilst longer term arrangements are put in place which will be located at the Tonna Hospital site and expected to be in place by spring 2021.

– Welsh Government statement
9,000
new mums in Wales will experience perinatal mental health problems every year.

Katie says she wants Wales to have it’s own mother and baby unit so other mothers do not have to worry about traveling outside of the country for treatment.

“It gets to the point where either mothers don’t go to the units because they’re too far and then that can lead to the child not having a mother. And it’s not right. It’s not good enough."