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Budget: Funding for maternal mental health but Government ignores child poverty

Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor

Children’s charities welcomed the announcement that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has secured £1.25bn of new funding as part of the budget to help children and new mothers with mental health issues.

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

Over a five year period, the money will help treat 110,000 more children and provide rapid access to mental health treatment for new mothers.

However, 4Children and the National Children’s Bureau criticised the Government for not doing more to “end the scourge of child poverty”.

As part of the funding for children’s mental health, the first ever access and waiting time standards for children’s mental health will be introduced and specialists in children’s talking therapy will be available in every part of the country by 2018. The funding will also extend access to services for children under five and those with autism and learning disabilities.

The funding announced will also ensure increased support and treatment for all women experiencing mental health issues during pregnancy or in the months after giving birth.

Mental health problems for one in 10 new mums

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “One in 10 women experience mental health problems during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth but for far too long many have been subjected to a second-class mental health service.

“It is terrifying to think that in this day and age some new mothers are having to travel miles for treatment and others are even being separated from their newborn child. This has to stop.

“This funding will make sure they get the treatment and support they need so they in turn can give their children the best possible start in life.”

The funding for women with mental health issues will pay for rapid access to inpatient mother and baby services close to home in cases where the mother is very ill, as well as care from specialist community perinatal mental health teams and access to community-based psychological therapy, according to the Government.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “This much needed investment will kick-start a multi-year upgrade in care for younger people and their families. NHS nurses, therapists and doctors will use this funding to benefit families in every part of the country.”

'Much needed and long overdue'

Ruth Thorlby, senior fellow in Health Policy at the Nuffield Trust, called the investment “much needed and long overdue”.

Chief Executive of 4Children, Imelda Redmond, said that by targeting maternal mental health “the Chancellor has rightly focused attention on a forgotten problem which has a devastating long term impact on children and families. Intervening early to prevent families reaching crisis point has to be central.”

However she added that in order “to make Britain great for children and families the next Government must prioritise support for families by committing to a universal childcare guarantee, placing Children’s Centres at the heart of every community and committing to end the scourge of child poverty.”

Apart from mental health funding there was 'little other good news'

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau also welcomed the new funding for children’s mental health services, but said: “There is little other good news for children and young people and we are concerned that the Chancellor lacks a coordinated strategy to make this country the best place for them to grow up in.

“The Chancellor has responded to campaigning organisations and children themselves to inject much-needed funding into mental health services for children and young people, which for far too long have been a neglected part of the NHS. But more can be done and mental health services for children must be funded in great parity with those for adults. We must also ensure that funding is translated into services in areas of need quickly, to alleviate the suffering of children with mental health issues.

“We challenge the complacency the Chancellor has shown in claiming a drop in child poverty. Some research suggests a different picture, with the number of children growing up under the poverty line projected to rise to 4.7m by 2020, the date by which the Government has pledged to eradicate child poverty. Going forward we need a firm commitment from all parties to commit to this goal, and outline a clear strategy for achieving it, should they be elected in the coming election.”


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