Shared learning database

Type and Title of Submission


Audit of Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services in Sussex


Development of as specialist perinatal mental health service and ongoing service evaluation of clinical and cost effectiveness.

Does the submission relate to the general implementation of all NICE guidance?


Does the submission relate to the implementation of a specific piece of NICE guidance?


Full title of NICE guidance:

CG45 - Antenatal and postnatal mental health

Is the submission industry-sponsored in any way?


Description of submission

Aims and objectives

Re-audit and compare data regarding perinatal inpatient admissions.


Following request from commissioners, it was agreed that one of the service standards for the funding of the perinatal team was continuous audit against national standards. Also, we are responsible for the out of area budget, so need to gather this data routinely to ensure value for money.

A previous audit report published in January 2009 (Denny et al., 2009) concluded that, in relation to its overall population size, there was a lower than expected demand for inpatient perinatal services in Sussex compared with national averages and recommendations provided by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE, 2008) (68%). Following this initial audit commissioning of services in Sussex for women who have severe mental health problems related to pregnancy has changed, in line with recommendations made by NICE (National Collaboration Centre for Mental Health, 2007) for the development of clinical perinatal networks that are closely integrated with community-based mental health services to ensure continuity of care and minimum length of stay should a mother and baby admission be necessary.

The re-audit was timely in the context of the original findings and service development.


The new Service has five consultant psychiatrists with a special interest in perinatal psychiatry and three part time mental health practitioners. The service provides a coordinated specialist approach for women who develop severe mental health problems related to pregnancy, mothers with post natal mental illness and those with pre-existing psychiatric conditions who become pregnant. The SPMHS works with women throughout their pregnancy until one year post childbirth, and also takes referrals of young mothers under the age of 18. The service offers direct clinical work in the form of telephone advice, information and signposting, outreach assessment and follow up from the practitioners; access to specialist consultant psychiatry time for those appropriate for the service; and indirect work such as teaching, training, consultation and advice to other healthcare professionals, in particular to primary care and acute medical trusts. The service provides weekly clinics and community outreach across East and West Sussex, usually in collaboration with other teams / services as required.

Results and evaluation

The results show that admissions to these units continue to be low compared with national data and statistics. This suggests that mainstream psychiatric services may be preventing admissions by providing interventions within the community. This has substantial financial benefit and improves the recovery outcomes and quality of care for women and their families. Domestic violence was indicated on risk assessments for 12 of the 25 women in this more recent sample.

Key learning points

-A mixed model of specialist perinatal mental health service is both clinically and cost effective.
-Domestic violence is increasingly highlighted as a risk factor for this population and the newer NICE guidance on Pregnancy and complex social factors should be incorporated within local clinical care pathways.
-Service evaluation and clinical audit is a vital component of implementing this type of service.

View the supporting material

Contact Details

Name:Wendy Harlow
Job Title:Evidence & Practice Facilitator
Organisation:Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Address:Aldrington House, 35 New Church Road
Town:Brighton & Hove City
County:East Sussex
Postcode:BN3 4AG


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This page was last updated: 30 January 2012

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Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.