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NEWS: Pandemic pauses postnatal practice mental health check

by in GP Practice Management, News

Plans to ensure new mothers discuss their mental health with GPs may have fallen foul of the pandemic, according to a survey published today.

The appointments were introduced into the GP contract last year as part of a drive to improve maternal mental health. They are meant to be a separate discussion to the six week check on the health of the baby.

According to a survey published today, 85% of new mothers say their mental health was never raised in the postnatal GP appointment. The survey of 893 women was conducted by pollsters Survation and commissioned by the National Childbirth Trust.

NCT chief executive Angela McConville said: “It is extremely disappointing to find that only 15% of new mothers are getting an appointment focused on their wellbeing and a quarter of mums are not being asked about their mental health at all.”

NHS England director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani said: “The introduction of six-week postnatal health checks on the NHS for new mums was a significant step, and all GP teams are expected to have these important discussions with new mothers.”

Janet Fyle, from the Royal College of Midwives, said many practices did not have the resources to deliver the improved care. She said: “GPs like many of their NHS colleagues are battling to cope with the demands they are facing with too few of them to do the job. They, along with midwives and their NHS colleagues supporting women through pregnancy and beyond, must be given the resources and time to spend with women; otherwise, important and possibly life-threatening problems may be missed. I would encourage new mothers to raise any problems or concerns they have with their mental or physical health with their midwife, health visitor or GP as soon as possible.”

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