New Mother & Baby Unit opens to patients

A new health unit in Essex welcomes it's first patients this week treating mums with mental health problems without separating them from their baby.

The five-bedded Rainbow Mother & Baby unit's opened on the Broomfield Hospital site in Chelmsford - Until now, there was only a 2-bedded unit, and babies were cared for in another part of the hospital.

Simon Burns MP, was at the official opening and said: "It is a pleasure and privilege to open the Rainbow Mother & Baby Unit. North Essex Partnership is a positive and dynamic Trust that is putting patients at the heart and centre of healthcare which is the way we believe that the National Health Service should be moving. This new unit is meeting the demands and requirements of patients. The fact that now, mothers and their babies don’t have to be split up, but can be cared for in the same rooms, is a positive and important step forward.

I congratulate all those people who worked so hard to provide care to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The Trust has taken steps to reduce the stigma of mental illness and I congratulate them for their efforts. I hope that those who work here, enjoy their working environment and those who need to come here for treatment, enjoy their experience in what are first class, modern, state-of-the-art facilities.”

Mary St Aubyn, Chairman of North Essex Partnership said: “The best thing about the new unit is that mothers and their babies will stay together during treatment and that makes a huge difference."

According to NICE, approximately 4% of deliveries (or 40 per 1000 deliveries) are to women who are likely to have severe and/or complex mental disorders, and require advice and care from a specialist mental health service. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has estimated that 6 out of every 1,000 women who give birth will require admission to a mother and baby unit.

Extrapolating these delivery and admission figures to reflect the level of live births in North Essex (10,700 in 2006) indicates that there would be an estimated 65 mothers and babies requiring admission annually, with an average length of stay of 56 days.