Options to increase Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) capacity

Closed 31 May 2022

Opened 28 Feb 2022

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Currently, there are two regional Mother and Baby Units in Scotland. These are at St John’s Hospital, Livingston hosted by NHS Lothian and Leverndale Hospital, Glasgow hosted by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Each Mother and Baby Unit can take up to six women and their babies.

Information from the existing Mother and Baby Units and data linkage show that, over the five years 2016-2020, there were an average of 115 Mother and Baby Unit admissions per year. However, there were a further 125 admissions per year of women within 12 months of childbirth to other inpatient mental health beds.

The data also indicate that in all health board areas, except NHS Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, women were more likely to be admitted to a non-Mother and Baby Unit setting than to a Mother and Baby Unit if they require inpatient mental health treatment. NHS Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are the host boards for the two Mother and Baby Units.

It is likely that some of the women and their infants admitted to non-Mother and Baby Unit settings would have benefitted from Mother and Baby Unit admission. However, we do not currently have the data to tell us why women were admitted to non-Mother and Baby Unit beds. There are a number of possible reasons ranging from not being the primary caregiver or the patient preferring to be treated away from their baby to lack of available of beds in Mother and Baby Units or the patient not wishing to travel away from their local area.

Delivering Effective Services: Perinatal mental health services: needs assessment and recommendations (2019) draws on the findings of the Perinatal Mental Health Network’s NHS board visits, professionals’ workshops and online survey of women’s views, conducted in 2017-18, and the existing evidence base on service provision. The report makes recommendations on what services Scotland should develop to meet the needs of mothers with mental ill health, their infants, partners and families.

The Scottish Government established the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board in April 2019. The Programme Board oversee a programme of investment, provides strategic leadership and have overall management of the delivery of improved perinatal and infant mental health services. Since its establishment, the Programme Board has been working to take forward the recommendations from Delivering Effective Services (2019).

Delivering Effective Services (2019) recommended that Scotland could benefit from an additional four Mother and Baby Unit beds. These additional beds could be created by expanding one or other of the existing Mother and Baby Units, or through creating a new, third, Mother and Baby Unit in the north of Scotland.

Delivering Effective Services suggested that an options appraisal should be carried out to determine where the additional beds should be sited. We are currently seeking views to help us understand the needs of women and families in Scotland. This will help to inform the options appraisal. The options appraisal will evaluate potential options on the basis of equity of access, cost, and the safety and sustainability of the service.


Read the consultation paper 

Read the consultation paper (Easy Read version)


Why your views matter

To help ensure that the right services are available at the right time, and in the right way for those who need them we are aware that we need to hear the views from people across Scotland. Your views will help us in determining the most effective way forward in developing inpatient services which meet the recommendations outlined in Delivering Effective Services.

At the end of the consultation you will be given the option to have your response published with or without your name. All responses will be treated confidentially. 

What happens next

We will use this data to inform the final draft of the options appraisal and to support future decisions in this area. The views of people across Scotland are highly valued and as such we would also seek to incorporate these into other future policy developments. This would involve discussing and sharing the analysis of the consultation with Scottish Government policy areas and stakeholders involved in Mother and Baby Unit provision. The information shared at this point would be from the final consultation analysis and would take into account the context and approach of the consultation itself.

We may also wish to share consultation responses (including unpublished responses) with the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board. The results would be anonymised and only securely shared for the purposes of informing policy development.

We will publish the results of the consultation Summer 2022.


  • Children and Families
  • Health and Social Care