"The Mother and Baby Unit at Bucknall was my lifeline and will always remain very dear to me"

About: North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust / Adult mental health

(as a service user),

It is with sadness and disappointment, I hear the mother and baby day unit at Bucknall hospital may not be re-located, and the service is under threat.

I had my first child in Feb 2000 and suffered puerperal pyschosis. I was so poorly - I had to be sectioned and hospitalised for three and a half months - the longest and darkest days of my life.

The nearest inpatient facility being Leighton hospital, Crewe - which was over an hours car journey for my partner and family to visit - at a very stressful and vulnerable time.

On discharge I was then introduced to the mother and baby day unit (then based in Charles St, Hanley). I cannot stress enough the impact the fantastic staff had on my recovery. I would not be here without them and my family. This vital service is so often overlooked.

Almost 6 years later, I gave birth to my second daughter, and as expected needed to use the mother and baby unit (now based at Bucknall). It was only with careful planning - pre and post pregnancy with the staff and sheer determination, I avoided being hospitalised. The unit was my lifeline and will always remain very dear to me.

It seems to me the service has not moved forward but is diluted further. Stoke lost the 'Pathways' inpatient unit at the Harplands back in 2003 for a supposed better, stronger service - but I fear Stoke mums yet again will suffer a raw deal. I believe the mum is the crux of the family - and if she is ill and vulnerable - the effect on the baby, siblings, partner and wider family is enormous. In my opinion, no one could deny the importance of this service.

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Response from North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for your post re the Parent and Baby Day Unit currently at Bucknall Hospital. We are always very pleased to hear about how services have benefited people, and the aspects of the service that they value.

The Parent and Baby Day Service is valued by NSCHT and by local commissioners and stake-holders. The Day Service model is valued and the plan remains that an alternative site will be found so that the service can continue to function as currently commissioned. There has had to be some discussion and planning around what could be done if a suitable site cannot be found in the time-scale required, and alongside this, as with all our services, there have been discussions about how efficiencies could be made. This is prudent in the current climate. The Service is also keen to respond to concerns about accessibility and will take this into account in finding a suitable site. The plan remains for the service to move to a new site without any change to the model. Options for the model in future will be discussed with service users and other stake-holders if necessary in the future, as we greatly value service user and carer input into service design.

Best wishes

Christine Leaman

Clinical Director

Adult Mental Health Services