New and expectant mums will have access to specialist mental health services across UK by next April, the NHS has pledged

Campaigners last night welcomed the “life-saving improvements”, which they say will end a postcode lottery in services.

One in five women experience mental health problems during pregnancy and in the year after birth, with depression the most common.

But only 3 per cent of the country had good access to perinatal mental health care in 2014.

Teams of doctors and nurses will offer mental health assessments and tailored care in the weeks immediately before or after birth.

They will also provide pre-conception advice for women with a current or past severe mental illness who are planning a pregnancy.

Around 30,000 mums are expected to benefit from the £365million programme by 2021.

Dr Alain Gregoire, from the Maternal Mental Health Alliance said: “In over 30 years working for the NHS I have never seen any national programme produce such a rapid, effective and widespread transformation in services.

“These new, top quality services have led directly to life saving improvements in care for women and babies that will hugely reduce immediate and long term suffering.

“The new developments announced today in England look set to eliminate a long-standing and serious postcode lottery, and will undoubtedly make England the world leader in mental health care for mothers and babies.”

Justine Roberts, from Mumsnet, said: “Extra provision in this crucial area is so important and we hope it makes a real difference in supporting pregnant women and new mothers.”

Claire Murdoch, national mental health director for NHS England said: “We are committed to driving forward improvements in care and ensuring this important area of mental health continues to get the attention it deserves.”

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