I thank James Dornan for his question.
Good perinatal mental health care is vitally important in improving outcomes for mothers and their young children. That is why we are funding a national managed clinical network on perinatal mental health. The MCN brings together specialists on perinatal mental health, nursing, maternity and infant mental health. The network’s long-term aim is to ensure that all women, their infants and families have equity of access to the perinatal mental health services that they need across all of Scotland.
Additionally, as was announced last week in the programme for government, we are providing a package of measures to do more to support positive mental health and to prevent mental ill health, which includes a quarter of a billion pounds of additional investment, starting this year and progressively increasing over the subsequent four years. The funding includes £50 million for perinatal mental health services to develop a strong network of care and support for the one in five new mothers—around 11,000 a year—who experience mental health problems during and after pregnancy.
I thank the minister for that full answer to what I believe is the first question that she has answered in the chamber in her new role.
As the minister will be aware, almost 20 per cent of women experience mental ill health during their pregnancy, so I am grateful that the Government is taking decisive action to improve provision of perinatal mental health support in Scotland. The Government’s programme for Scotland for 2018-19 states:
“We will also substantially expand the range of perinatal support available to women.”
Can the minister advise on how many women she expects to benefit from those new support measures?
As James Dornan mentioned, we set out in our programme for government a package of commitments to expand the help that is available to new mothers who may experience a mental health issue around the time of pregnancy. We will provide three tiers of support across Scotland, in line with the needs of individuals. For those 11,000 women a year who would benefit from help such as counselling, we will support the third sector to provide that. For the 5,500 women who are in need of more specialist help, we will ensure rapid access to psychological assessment and treatment. For the 2,250 women with the most severe illness, we will develop more specialist services and consider the need for a small number of additional in-patient beds or enhanced community provision.
In April, the Scottish Government was widely criticised after data from the Maternal Mental Health Alliance showed that, in 50 per cent of health board areas across Scotland, women had no access to specialist perinatal mental health services. Can the minister assure me that the measures that were set out in the programme for government will enable such access so that women do not face a postcode lottery when it comes to perinatal health support?
The managed clinical network is carrying out a mapping and gapping exercise in support of its shorter-term aims to provide a comprehensive overview of current service provision, and the additional funding that was announced last week will help to ensure that women are able to access the services that they need, when they need them.