I am working to improve postnatal care in Kent. A coroner has said deaths could occur unless action is taken - following the suicide of a mother whose family are my constituents.
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust was ordered to produce a Regulation 28 Report to explain how it will improve postnatal support. It followed the death of Rebecca Kruza, 39, from Folkestone, who took her own life at her mother's home in Alkham in June 2017.
Following a traumatic labour and breastfeeding difficulties due to her baby's tongue tie and colic, Rebecca became sleep deprived before being diagnosed with postnatal depression. At her inquest Coroner Alan Blundson initially ruled the suicide could not have been prevented, but then ordered the Regulation 28 Report to Prevent Future Deaths.
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust has responded pointing to an eight-bed Mother and Baby Unit in Dartford which opened last year. But Rebecca's mother Lyn Richardson and sister Kate Kruza say more units and wider support are needed – because the new unit serves a population of 4.5 million across Kent, Sussex and Surrey. In the absence of beds, the alternative means sectioning to a Kent hospital psychiatric unit and forced separation from the baby until a bed becomes available.
Mental health treatment is improving but we can do more – particularly for new mothers who are under extra pressure in lots of ways. I am backing Lyn and Kates's campaign for better provision. I have contacted the chief executive of the trust and I hope we can all work on this together.
Rebecca's mother Lyn Richardson, who has fought to get the coroner to order the report, was the person who discovered her daughter in June 2017 – while holding her baby. Lyn feels a lack of professional communication, information sharing, safeguarding and risky assessment and follow procedures have been identified as responsible for failures."
Lyn added the family was also passionate about providing local Early Help and Mother and Baby Respite Homes for mild to moderate forms of postnatal depression. She feels it will prevent unnecessary escalation to severe mental health and avoid the need for psychiatric interventions and hospitalisation.
The family are carrying out a survey called "What Mums Need" to identify required improvements in perinatal mental health support Information can be found at the Facebook page "Everglow the Rebecca Kruza Foundation" where people can also donate.