NCT is celebrating NHS England’s new contract arrangements which will support GP practices to provide mothers with a dedicated six to eight week postnatal check to discuss their health with a GP.
The UK’s largest parents’ charity’s #HiddenHalf campaign has been calling for this outcome since its research  showed nearly half of mothers’ postnatal mental health problems were not being picked up by healthcare professionals.
The GP postnatal check is critical. Since 2004, the six week postnatal baby check has been included as a funded mandatory requirement in the GP (GMS) contract, but the six to eight week maternal check has not been funded or mandatory.
As a result, mothers reported that whilst baby checks are routinely carried out, the maternal check was often either not done at all or squeezed in at the end of the baby check appointment. Consequently, many mothers reported being unable to disclose mental health problems or not feeling comfortable enough to do so.
Angela McConville, Chief Executive, NCT, said: “It’s fantastic news that NHS England has responded to calls for better postnatal mental health checks. This is a huge step forward and means more new mothers can be supported to talk about their mental health problems and get the help they need.”
NCT is grateful to the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Psychologists, Maternal Mental Health Alliance and Netmums for their important contributions to the #HiddenHalf campaign.
¹NCT research in 2017 found that only around half (42 per cent) of new mothers’ mental health problems got picked up by a healthcare professional. The charity’s 2019 research found that 47 per cent of mothers got less than three minutes for a discussion about their own health at the six to eight week check.