MBU open day Jan 2019 staff looking at bookA £4m unit offering new mothers with serious mental health problems specialist help closer to home has opened. Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Kingfisher Mother and Baby Unit (MBU), which is at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich opened in January 2019. It will ensure mums and their babies can stay together while the mother receives inpatient care for conditions such as severe postnatal depression, serious anxiety disorders and postpartum psychosis.

The MBU will offer a range of therapeutic services, including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and family therapy, along with help with bonding and attachment. Trained peer support workers – people who have personal experience of perinatal mental ill health – will also offer support and practical help to patients.

NSFT has recruited more than 30 mental health nurses, assistant practitioners, therapists, support workers, social workers and nursery nurses to run the service. They will work closely with NSFT’s Community Perinatal Teams in Norfolk and Suffolk, which provide specialist care within the community for conditions such as severe postnatal depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis, as well as perinatal teams in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Susan Stolworthy, NSFT’s Operational Manager for Perinatal Services (Norfolk and Waveney), said: “We are delighted that this vital new unit will be able to welcome its first patients next week. It will make a real difference to this vulnerable group, ensuring they are able to stay with their newborn and receive the best possible care closer to home.

“Our new team has bonded really well over the past few months, completing a range of specialist training to make sure they can provide high quality, evidence-based care to new mums and their babies. Staff have also visited other MBUs across the country so that they can learn from others and bring back best practice to benefit patients here in East Anglia.

“We look forward to working with new mothers and providing them with potentially life-changing care so that they can develop a strong bond with their baby and go on to enjoy a healthy future.”

The MBU will accept referrals from existing specialist perinatal teams, health visitors, midwives and GPs from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, as well as other parts of the country.

Its décor has been designed in partnership with staff and service users, and uses a muted, homely and welcoming colour palette. Each of the eight en-suite bedrooms has been identified by a different flower design on the door, while local artists Toby Rampton and Bev Coraldean have also created bespoke works for the unit.