Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt vows to continue funding mental health service during visit to Brent

PUBLISHED: 19:07 05 February 2016

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt visits the mental health unit at Central Middlesex Hospital

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt visits the mental health unit at Central Middlesex Hospital

Jonathan Goldberg

The Health Secretary pledged to continue funding mental health services while on a visit to a family psychiatric unit in Park Royal today.

Mr Hunt has three children under the age of five  Pic credit: Jonathan GoldbergMr Hunt has three children under the age of five Pic credit: Jonathan Goldberg

Jeremy Hunt MP made the promise during a tour of Coombe Wood Mother and Baby Unit off Acton Lane, which provides support to new mothers with mental health issues.

The unit allows the mothers to remain with their babies after they have given birth.

The 10-bed psychiatric unit attached to the Central Middlesex Hospital, is one of only three in the capital, and the only one that allows fathers to stay.

It also houses a community health team who do outreach work with an average of 80 mothers across Brent and Harrow with post natal depression or psychosis.

The government has pledged £365million nationally for the next four years specifically for “perinatal care” for mothers and their infants.

Mr Hunt exclusively said to the Times: “What this place does really well is help people re-build their bond with their child, they can stay here for six or seven weeks. If you look at the evidence this is the first stage where things can go wrong for a small child, their family circumstances can be very unhappy and what we want to do is make sure they get the support they need.

“Resources are always finite but given how difficult the financial situation is at the moment it’s a sign that funding the mental health agenda is a particular agenda that we have.”

The father-of-three, whose children are all under the age of five, added: “It isn’t just about funding beds, it’s also about community outreach so you can go out to families at home, and also provide support for single mums who can find their situations even more overwhelming.

“It’s about providing the right service to meet patients’ needs but it’s somewhere we can be proud we are taking forward steps.”

However a consultant psychiatrist at the unit told the Times that more money was needed.

Dr Jona Lewin said: “If we had more money we could offer a bigger and better service.”

“We are fortunate we are funded through NHS England directly, before that we were funded by different Primary Care Trust which was more complicated.

“He (Mr Hunt) spent a lot of time with our patients. He’s a father with young children so maybe he understands what their needs are.

“More community perinatal health teams need to be established nationally. Some areas have them and some don’t.”

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