Healthwatch Torbay’s Maternity and Mental Health Project


Last year, Healthwatch England, the statutory, independent national champion for people who use health and social care services, began a major project to find out about the public’s experience of mental health services.

Having now analysed the initial feedback they received from service users they’ve requested that six Healthwatch teams around the country undertake what they call a ‘deep dive’ piece of work, each focusing on specific areas.

Healthwatch Torbay has been selected to explore our community’s experiences of mental health support, during pregnancy, throughout the perinatal period and up to 3 years beyond. The intention is to enable a deeper understanding of strengths, challenges and gaps as experienced by the public and by service providers.

Healthwatch England have given the time-frame for completion of the data submission as the end of March 2019.

Our work will include interviews with staff – both mental health and maternity professionals – and will involve visits to specialist mother and baby units or maternity wards for background field work. We’ll also be considering the impact of deprivation issues identified in the Public Health Local Authority Health Profile for Torbay* and encouraging responses from people (including partners) often considered to be seldom heard, focusing, too, on those whose English is not their first language.

The selection of Healthwatch Torbay recognises our capability to deliver on work of national relevance. It also recognises the desire of our local stakeholders to use the experience of local people to inform service improvement.

*(Torbay is one of the 20% most deprived districts/unitary authorities in England and about 20% (4,600) of children live in low income families)

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!