Sinn Fein spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has called on the HSE to stop delaying and set a date for the opening of a perinatal mother and baby mental health unit.
The Dublin Mid West TD said the fact there is currently there is no mother and baby unit on the island of Ireland is “leading to the separation of Mothers and Babies on the island of Ireland”.
Teachta Ward said:
“There is a prevalence of depression during and after pregnancy. We urgently need a Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service.
“Comments this week from Dr Amir Niazi, the HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Mental Health, that the development of the perinatal unit is definitely not in the HSE plan for 2022 is disappointing.
“He said the main hurdle standing in the way of plans progressing at the moment is choosing one of two sites where it will be located in St Vincent’s University Hospital in south Dublin.
“Once the HSE have the chosen the site then it’s up to the estate’s department of the HSE to agree on the construction of it, and only then they will focus on the funding for the recruitment of staff and all of those things.
“This process is taking far too long and needs to be streamlined. The Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service Model of Care published in 2017 recommended that a mother and baby unit be developed in Dublin.
“It’s now 2022 and nothing has happened. The HSE have not even chosen a site yet.
“While there are 20 perinatal units like this in Britain, there are none in the North of Ireland. Currently there is no mother and baby unit on the island of Ireland.
“Mothers who need inpatient care are currently being admitted to acute psychiatric units without their children.
“We have a dark history in this state in separating Mothers from their babies and history is now repeating itself in this instance.
“We must have a Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service that is fit for purpose and free to act in the best interests of women’s health.”