THE widower of a Huddersfield woman who killed herself while suffering from postnatal depression has backed a tough new report.
Chris Bingley had to cope with the death of his wife Joanne after the birth of their daughter.
Now he agrees with an NSPCC report which said there are “worrying gaps” in mental health services for pregnant women.
The NSPCC said that women face a “postcode lottery” of services because less than half of mental health trusts in England have specialist services for expectant and new mothers.
The wellbeing of more than one in 10 newborn babies across the country could be improved if all new mothers with mental illness had equal access to good services, a report by the charity suggests.
Mr Bingley set up the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation to try to get more help for mothers who are at risk from suffering postnatal depression.
The Foundation was formed in memory of Joe, who stepped in front of a train at Deighton in 2010. She took her own life because she was suffering from severe postnatal depression following the birth of daughter Emily, then aged 10 weeks old.
Mr Bingley said: “We are supporting the NSPCC call to action for the improvements urgently needed in the provision of maternal mental health services across the UK.
“Whilst Leeds has its own Mother and Baby Unit and specialist perinatal mental health services, across the rest of Yorkshire and the UK services are chronically inadequate, if they exist at all.
“Recently there has been much publicity over the NHS estimate of £17.5bn in outstanding negligence claims as a result of blunders and failure to follow care quality standards.
“The wider economic costs of mental illness in England have been estimated at £105.2 billion each year. This includes direct costs of services, lost productivity at work and reduced quality of life.
“This postcode lottery of care has existed for far too long, with over 35,000 mums suffering in silence every year and fathers left with no NHS support or guidance.”
He said Joe had previously been treated for depression, raising the risk she would suffer again from 15% to 50% in her pregnancy.
He said the coroner conducting her inquest confirmed as fact the independent investigation, stating Joe should have been hospitalised at least three days before she died and if she had would probably still be alive.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “This report clearly shows that with the right services, it is possible to prevent the harm caused by maternal mental illness. But opportunities to help many more families are being missed.
“We have to start treating the mental health of mums and babies with the same importance as their physical health.
“Pregnancy and the first months of a child’s life are critical for their future wellbeing. If the Government is serious about giving every child the best start in life it must take action to fill the gaps in services.”