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Mums in Wales face shortfall in mental health services

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THOUSANDS of women in Wales who need specialist support for mental health problems during pregnancy or following birth are unable to access the care they need because of where they live. And others needing specialist inpatient care must receive it in England because Wales does not have a mother and baby inpatient unit for women suffering the most severe mental health conditions.

Perinatal mental health problems are one of the most common complications experienced during pregnancy and after birth with up to one in five women – and up to one in 10 dads affected. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and postpartum psychosis.

It means that in Wales more than 6,000 new mothers every year will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the 12 months following the birth of their child. If left untreated, these conditions can have a devastating impact on women and their families, making it harder for parents to provide the care babies need for healthy social, intellectual and emotional development.

As the NSPCC launches its new campaign, Fight for a Fair Start, which calls for improved perinatal mental health provision, the charity has highlighted that Wales’s seven health boards have just one specialist health visitor and four specialist perinatal mental health midwives between them.

These roles can offer vital early help and continuity of care to mums and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems and help reduce demands on other services which have to support parents suffering problems.

The charity has also highlighted that new mothers experiencing the most severe perinatal mental health conditions are not able to access appropriate inpatient care in Wales because there is no mother and baby unit. Instead, women who need specialist inpatient care are either admitted for treatment in adult psychiatric wards – where they may be separated from their child – or in mother and baby units in England.

Launching Fight for a Fair Start today (19 July) NSPCC Cymru has called for:

  • Dedicated specialist perinatal mental health midwives and health visitors in each health board area, to help identify and support women and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems.
  • All women and their families to be able to access a mother and baby unit in Wales.
  • Greater investment in specialist services to ensure that all women and their families can access high quality specialist perinatal mental health services, wherever they live in Wales

Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Senior Policy Researcher at NSPCC Wales, said: “New mums and dads in Wales are still not receiving the mental health support that they need to give their babies the best start in life. Experiencing perinatal mental health problems can make it harder for parents to provide the sensitive and responsive care that babies need at such an important time, and that is why it is so crucial to have the right support in place for families.

“Access to this vital support should not be dependent upon where you live. Having at least one specialist mental health midwife and specialist perinatal mental health visitor in each health board in Wales would be a significant step towards ensuring that these problems are identified early and mums and their families receive the best care.

“Greater investment is also needed. The Welsh Government must make sure that all women and their families affected by the most serious problems can access potentially lifesaving treatment and support from a mother and baby unit in Wales when they need it.”

North Wales mum Sally Wilson developed postpartum psychosis in 2015 just days after the birth of her daughter Ella but was unable to access the locally-based help she needed such as a mother and baby unit. She said: “I experienced delusions, hallucinations and I was terrified I had harmed Ella but I was admitted to a general adult psychiatric unit, which was scary and traumatic, while Ella went home with my partner.

“In North Wales there weren’t any specialist perinatal mental health teams and no specialist mother and baby unit with the nearest two hours away in England. It took me a long time to access the correct treatment and not only did this have an impact on my recovery but it also affected early bonding with Ella.

“In the absence of specialist help, I was fortunate that my partner’s research background meant he was able to investigate evidence-based treatment options, I appreciate that is not the case for everyone. I also relied heavily on the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis to help me recover. Ultimately, this saved my life.”

Dr Jess Heron, CEO of Action on Postpartum Psychosis added that they supported the NSPCC Campaign. She said: “Most women who develop Postpartum Psychosis will need admission to a specialist Mother and Baby Unit. It is not right that women who become ill in Wales have to be admitted far away from their families in England, or risk being separated from their infant.

“Psychiatric illness is the leading cause of maternal death in the postpartum year in the UK. We fully endorse the call made by NSPCC for women to have immediate access to a mother and baby unit within a reasonable distance of their home if they need it, and to have access to specialist care within perinatal mental health teams wherever they live.”

The NSPCC campaign has been supported by Jo Malone London who also fund direct services to new and prospective parents, focussing on supporting parents with their mental health problems to help them develop secure and healthy relationships with their children.

The NSPCC is inviting people to join the campaign by raising their voice and signing the Fight for a Fair Start petition.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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Kill the Bill protest to take place in Haverfordwest on Saturday

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INDIVIDUALS and activists from local groups, including Extinction Rebellion Pembrokeshire, Stand Up to Racism West Wales, Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly and Reclaim These Streets Pembrokeshire are campaigning against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and are to hold a demonstration against the Bill at 1pm this Saturday April 17, in Haverfordwest.
One of the organisers told  The Herald: “This is an enormous piece of draconian legislation that includes significant expansion in police powers to curtail the right to protest. The right to peacefully assemble and protest are a fundamental part of any democracy; empowering people to have their voices heard, in addition to holding the Government to account. These rights are universal –they protect peaceful and legitimate protest whatever the cause.
“The events at the Clapham vigil and at demonstrations over the last few weeks are a dangerous indication of what the future of protest will look like if the police powers bill gets through parliament.”
A local campaigner, a mother and grandmother said “We are in the process of losing a fundamental part of our democracy, It is important we protect it for future generations. We have messed up so much of their future already-we need to hold the Government to account”.
Aspects of the Bill include:
  • The power for Police forces to shut down protests that they deem too disruptive at their own discretion.
  • Up to a 10-year sentence for demonstrators considered to be causing a “public nuisance”.
  • The power for police forces to impose start and end times on static protests of any size.
  • The power to expand stop and search powers, which already discriminate against marginalised communities. If you live in the Dyfed Powys police area, you are 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black than white.
  • Up to 10-year sentences for damage to public monuments’ Police powers will be expanded and custodial sentences increased to “protect” women.
  • These measures are not sufficient to prevent violence and are troubling, considering some police officers’ involvement in cases of violence against women. Significant restrictions on where protests around Parliament may take place.
  • The elevation of trespass from a civil offence to a criminal offence, meaning police and courts can give harsh sentences to Travellers.
  • Increased power of police to seize vehicles and homes from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities and demanding proof of permission to travel.
  • The bill will criminalise a way of life for these communities.
A peaceful, Covid-compliant march and rally will be taking place in Haverfordwest on Saturday April 17 , assembling at Picton Fields at 1pm.
People will be asked to wear masks and keep to social distancing regulations.  It is one of a number of protests being organised nationally on the same day against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.
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Everything you need to know about the current coronavirus restrictions in Wales

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THE GOVERNMENT guidelines in Wales are changing today (Apr 12).

There are major changes coming into force today across the country as the government coronavirus guidelines are starting to relax.

The changes affect household bubbles, non-essential retail, education and travel.

As of Monday, April 12, the following changes have come into force:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet and exercise outdoors and in private gardens
  • Households or support bubbles can holiday in self-contained accommodation – including hotels with en-suite facilities
  • All pupils and students can now return to school, college and other education
  • All shops and close-contact services can open
  • The ban on travelling in and out of Wales has ended
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (Remainder on April 22)

Non-essential retail are able to open up today for the first time since the country was put into a national lockdown with non-essential retail ordered to close in December of last year.

With infection rates falling and the national vaccine rollout success, the Welsh Government have set out a road map of restriction easing.

Unlike England, the hospitality industry in Wales will have to wait until April 26 to open their doors to customers, but only for those who can operate in an outdoor space such as beer gardens.

The current guidelines in force for Wales are as follows:

Meeting friends and family

From May 3:

  • Two families can once again form an “extended household” and meet indoors.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet up outdoors, including gardens.
  • If you are an adult living alone or you’re a single responsible adult in a household (a single parent, for instance), you can form a support bubble with one other household.
  • You can also end it and form another support bubble with a different household, as long as you leave a 10-day gap between.

Going to work

  • You must work from home if you can. The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.
  • Tradespeople can work in someone else’s private home, as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus.

Schools and nurseries

  • All pupils will return to face-to-face teaching at school from 12 April.
  • From that date all students can return to further education and training centres.
  • University campuses will be able to open for blended (face-to face and online) learning for all students.
  • Internal GCSE, A-level and AS-level assessments have been cancelled.

Leisure time

From April 26:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen.
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants, but indoor hospitality will remain restricted.

From May 3:

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place.
  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation, including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service, can open to people from the same household or support bubble.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as golf, tennis and basketball are open. A maximum of six people from two households can take part.
  • Organised outdoor sport for under-18s can now take place.
  • All gyms and leisure centres are closed.
  • Professional sports will continue but stadiums are closed to fans.
  • Bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs are closed – except for takeaway and delivery.
  • The outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens can reopen in a limited way.
  • Libraries and archives can reopen

Shopping

From April 12:

  • All shops can reopen.
  • All close contact services such as hairdressers or beauty salons can open, including mobile services.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Hairdressers and barbers are open for business – by appointment only.
  • Non-essential shops remain closed.
  • Garden centres are now open.
  • Alcohol cannot be sold in shops between 22:00 and 06:00 BST.
  • Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff.
  • Indoor shopping should be done alone, or with people in your household.

Other

From April 12:

  • You can travel anywhere in the UK or the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)
  • Outdoor canvassing for the Welsh elections can begin.
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (remainder on 22 April).

From April 26:

  • Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will be limited to 30 people.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Weddings and civil partnerships can take place at licensed venues, but receptions are not allowed.
  • Care home residents can receive one designated visitor.
  • You can travel anywhere within Wales.
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