THE name of a new regional 'Mother and Baby mental health unit' has been revealed.

Preparatory work officially started in November on the £7.5m single storey building, which is the first of its kind across Cheshire, Merseyside, and North Wales.

The name ‘Seren Lodge’ has been chosen by mum’s who have experienced maternal mental ill-health and features a nod to the new cross-border partnership with NHS Wales.

Nia Foulkes, of Ruthin, was admitted to a specialist mother and baby unit in Manchester after giving birth to her son Gwilym in May 2019. 

The campaigner, who has been bipolar since 2012, coped well with her pregnancy but became very unwell after giving birth to Gwilym. She spent five months in a mother and baby unit in Manchester, far away from her home. 

Nia said being away from the support network of friends and family took its toll on her.

She campaigned for a Mother and Baby unit to be established in North Wales and launched a petition which drew thousands of signatures.

Nia has been using her lived experience to help the BCUHB design the new service.

She said: “I am happy that the new unit is going to be in Chester with easier access for North Wales patients, and I am very happy to hear of the Welsh provisions in the new unit."

"It was important to the group to choose a name which signified hope and positivity, but also something which was welcoming to families no matter where they live," she added.

"The name ‘Seren’ translates as ‘star’ in Welsh and ‘lodge’ felt homely and not clinical at all, which we thought was perfect."

Sarah Dearden, who had previously been admitted to a unit which was really far away from home, said: "It is particularly exciting to see the new site and know that our ideas and designs are being put into action. Units like this make a huge impact by keeping babies and their mothers together at a crucial time.”

The unit, on the site of the Countess of Chester Hospital, is a result of a partnership between Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCHUB), Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, NHS England and NHS Wales and will see a disused training centre transformed into a new specialist, eight bedded unit for perinatal mothers, babies and their families.

Once open the unit will work alongside the existing regional Community Perinatal Mental Health service who care for thousands of women every year.

The occasion was marked with a special ground-breaking ceremony.

Mums from across the region joined members of the clinical, construction and project teams to place the first official spade in the ground.

Preparatory work on the project is progressing well with both external and internal designs agreed, enabling building works underway and recruitment for the new centre set to begin imminently.

Suzanne Edwards, CWP director of operations and deputy CEO, said: “The new unit will support new and expectant mothers in a therapeutic environment which has been purposefully designed for people experiencing maternal mental health difficulties, such as post-natal depression, psychosis or a relapse of an existing mental health condition.

“It is estimated that one in four women experience mental health problems in pregnancy and during the 24 months after giving birth. Whilst only a small number of women will need admission to a specialist unit like Seren Lodge, I’m delighted that we’ll be able to offer this care closer to home, in addition to the thousands of families we see in the community every year.”

Dr Alberto Salmoiraghi, medical director for BCUHB and Learning Disabilities Division, said: “We’re delighted that Seren Lodge will enable high quality specialist care to be provided to new and expectant mothers from across North Wales, Cheshire, Wirral, and Merseyside in a purpose built, recovery focused environment.

“This level of specialist support is currently offered to North Wales women in facilities as far afield as Manchester, Chorley and Birmingham.


“Women from North Wales who have a lived experience of perinatal mental illness have played a central role in designing this new service and we’re very pleased to see that this is reflected in the name of the unit. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to deliver this much-needed unit.”

Seren Lodge will provide a home from home for women and their babies and include a nursery, sensory room, and multiple lounges to support quiet time and family visits. The unit will boast outside spaces - it will have two garden areas and a walking pram loop, with families also benefitting from close access to the Countess Country Park.

The news has also been met positively by national charity, Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) who has campaigned for greater access to specialist perinatal mental health care. 

Dr Jessica Heron, their chief executive, added: “We are so delighted to see the progress being made. The new unit will mean new mothers across North Wales, Cheshire and Merseyside with severe postnatal illness will be cared for appropriately and supported with parenting, without having to travel miles from their families to other areas of the UK or ending up in adult psychiatric wards separated from their newborn.”

The unit is set to open next winter.