Page last updated at 21:34 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Calls for specialist mother and baby unit in south west

Nicky Turriff
Nicky Turriff believes being separated from her daughter made her more ill

A woman from Cornwall who suffered extreme postnatal depression believes there is a need for a specialist mother and baby unit in the south west.

Nicky Turriff, from Padstow, developed puerperal psychosis after giving birth to her daughter, Poppy, in June 2008.

The illness caused hallucinations and paranoia and she was unable to speak.

She believes she would have got better more quickly in a mother and baby unit but instead went into a psychiatric hospital and was separated from Poppy.

'Just horrific'

"If I had had Poppy with me, I am sure I would have got better a lot quicker and maybe not got so bad.

"I think it was the panic that set in that made me worse because not having a child, which is so special to you, is just horrific, it's terrible."

Later this month the 36-year-old is taking part in a bike ride to raise funds for the Angela Harrison charity which was set up to remember a woman from Newquay who took her own life after developing puerperal psychosis.

Just under 53,000 babies are born in the south west each year and at least 10% of mothers are said to suffer from some form of postnatal depression.

Dr Adrian Flynn, a psychiatrist in Cornwall whose patients include women with postnatal depression, believes that a specialist mother and baby unit would be a good idea for the region.

"It is advocated in NICE [National Institute for Clinical Excellence] guidelines that all areas should have a specialist service and I believe there should be at least one unit down here in the south west."

A spokesperson for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said that work was being carried out with all primary care trusts in the south west to assess demand for a specialist mother and baby unit.

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