The department's response outlines how it plans to make improvements to perinatal mental health.
The government will invest £365 million between financial years 2015 to 2016 and 2020 to 2021 in perinatal mental health services.
The Mandate from the government to NHS England for 2016 to 2017 includes a commitment for NHS England “to close the health gap for people of all ages…with a greater focus on prevention and early intervention, as well as improvements to perinatal mental health”.
It is also important that women continue to have early access to safe, legal and high quality abortion services. As part of the Department of Health’s Required Standard Operating Procedures, RSOP 14 states that:
All women requesting an abortion should be offered the opportunity to discuss their options and choices with, and receive therapeutic support from, a trained pregnancy counsellor and this offer should be repeated at every stage of the care pathway.
A trained pregnancy counsellor is someone trained to diploma level. Counselling must be non-directive and non-judgemental and should not create barriers or delays. Counsellors should undergo continuous professional development and training similar to other professionals. Post-abortion counselling should also be available for those women who require it.
This is reiterated in the clinical guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion. This states that seeking information from women to determine the degree of certainty about their decision, careful and sensitive enquiry as to the reasons for requesting an abortion, and exploration of any doubts or suggestion of pressure or coercion are an essential part of the process.
Counselling should be provided by appropriately qualified people who offer non-judgmental support and who act in their professional judgement in the best interests of their clients, without undue influence or regard to outside interests.
The government’s leads on financial support and adoption lie with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education respectively.