NHS: Urgently review postnatal depression treatment and care (& care for all perinatal mental illnesses), so every mother gets the help they need.
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Last weekend would have been my wonderful sister Emma's 35th birthday. Emma, or ‘Emsie’ as we called her, died in December 2011, six months after giving birth to her first son. We will still celebrate Emsie's birthday, with all those who loved her, and her gorgeous son who only had his mummy for 6 short months.
Emma had been under the care of the local Mental Health ‘Crisis Team’ for months before she died. This was not specialist peri-natal mental health care, but general ‘crisis’ mental health care. No one in that team was experienced enough in peri-natal care to understand or recognise how unwell Emma really was. Emma kept trying to tell them, so did her GP and so did we, her family. The Crisis Team was all Emma had – there was nowhere else for her to go for help.
The day before my sister died she repeatedly said to the Crisis Team that “I’m not safe” and that she was experiencing incessant thoughts of being dead. Emma discussed hospital admission with the Crisis team on this day, Emma should not have been given the option, the decision should have been made for her, and it is likely that she would not have died. We didn't know about this request or her plans, but we did know she needed help. We had asked for Emsie to be treated in a special mother and baby unit but the nearest one wasn't in her health trust area - so she couldn't use it.
The NHS has admitted legal breach of duty and causation, and that Emsie’s right to life was violated due to the NHS failings. Despite the shocking findings, I don't believe anything has changed Women suffering from postnatal depression are still not getting the care they need. That's why I've started this petition calling for NHS England, who have the responsibility to commission care postnatal care, to urgently review the situation. Please help me by signing here.
One in ten mothers experience some kind of postnatal depression. But research by the National Childbirth Trust has found only 50 out of 193 NHS trusts in England provide a specialist mental health service to women when they give birth. With nearly 700,000 live births in England and Wales last year, this means of an estimated 70,000 women suffering from postnatal depression, only about 25% would have had access to the specialist care they need. This equates to 52,500 mothers a year being denied access to the specialist mental health care they need. 
Our case has revealed that if Emma had been referred to for specialist care she would have recovered. As a family we now have to live with the devastating consequences of this lack of care. No child should be without his mother because of an illness which is treatable.
Simon Stevens the CEO of NHS England has the power to instigate a review of the care provided for women and to commission new services where there are none. He can help make sure no other family have to suffer in this way.
Charities have started to speak out about the lack of care for postnatal depression. Now we must show NHS England that it is something people across the country are worried about.
Please help make sure no other mother is left without care by signing my petition for an urgent review.
- CEO, NHS England
For Emma - increase the number of specialist perinatal mental health professionals and services. In some areas there is little or no care.
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