STATE of the art help for new Dorset mums suffering mental health issues has come a big step closer with the approval of a planning application by Poole council.

Members of the planning committee approved an application by Dorset HealthCare for a new unit at St Ann’s Hospital near Sandbanks.

The site will house eight beds for women suffering severe mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar and post-partum psychosis after giving birth.

Dorset HealthCare will fund the development at a cost of around £6.95million, with work due to be completed in the summer of 2020.

Perinatal Service Manager, Jagoda Banovic, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that work can now start, and the new unit will help ensure Dorset women and their new-borns receive the very best specialised care and stay close to their support networks.

“It will also help them recover quicker, and be easier for fathers to visit and spend time with their family while the mother receives treatment.”

According to the NHS, mental illness in new mums can manifest in several ways, including hallucinations, anxiety and feeling confused or fearful.

Dorset HealthCare currently runs a five-bedded mother and baby unit at its Alumhurst Road site in Westbourne. This has been operating for more than seven years, but can no longer meet demand, said the authority.

Dorset HealthCare Chief Executive Eugine Yafele said: “It’s unacceptable that Dorset women might be sent for specialist care miles out of the area, and this new development will hopefully stop that happening.

“I am extremely grateful to Poole councillors for recognising the importance of this plan. It will allow us to provide first class care for more families in their local area, which we know will improve their recovery.”

The plans give consideration to the impact the new development will have on the hospital site, environment and neighbouring properties.