NEW and expectant mums from Cumbria experiencing severe mental illness can now be treated closer to home.

The newly opened Mother and Baby Unit at Chorley Hospital has eight beds for mothers who need specialist care during the latter stages of pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. The unit is being described as "a safe place" where women from Cumbria and Lancashire can be supported alongside their babies, rather than facing the distress of travelling to units outside the counties and away from their families.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Gill Strachan, of Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said up to 20 per cent of women develop a mental illness while pregnant or in the first year after giving birth.

A community outreach service for mums with moderate to severe perinatal mental illness is also to be launched in January 2019.