Parents making a difference in maternity services
Would you like to make a difference to your local maternity services? They need you, your experiences and your contact with other parents to help them develop and improve.
Parents working in partnership with midwives, doctors, other health professionals and charity reps can directly help improve future care to women, partners and babies using hospitals, birth centres and community services.
These multi-disciplinary groups are called Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVPs) in England, and Maternity Services Liaison Committees (MSLCs) in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Ideally, at least one third of the members are either recent users of maternity services or represent parents (such as NCT volunteers and practitioners) and the group is chaired by a service user representative.
The role of MVPs and MSLCs is to gather insight into how well maternity services are working locally by talking to new parents and their families. This ensures that the voice of mothers and fathers is at the heart of all decisions about maternity care.
Regular meetings provide members with the space and time to look at the feedback, share their individual expertise and perspectives and come up with innovations and improvements that suit local needs.
Find your local MVP or MSLC
You can find your local MVP or MSLC by:
- Check your local trust or hospital website
- Contact the Head of Midwifery in your area
- Ask Healthwatch if they have any details
- Enquire on the MSLC Leaders and Members Facebook group
The Practical Guide to Running Your MSLC contains lots of useful information, with chapter 2 featuring tried and tested ways of making an impact such as Walking the Patch (see page 8).
Download Implementing Better Births, a resource pack produced by NHS England for maternity commissioners, features a chapter on involving parents in co-designing services.
Read about how other NCT members have got involved with their local MSLC/ MVP and what they have achieved. Catherine Williams and Laura James. Laura also wrote a piece for the MatExp movement about her MSLC
National Maternity Voices is a group and website being developed by experienced MSLC and MVP members to encourage, support and mentor user reps
Not sure how the NHS works in England? The King’s Fund has produced this video plus some updates on recent events.
MSLCs Case Studies
Rosie Newman, service user rep and co-chair, designed a beautiful poster, presenting the birth choices available to women in a visual and easy to read way.
The MSLC held a themed meeting on mental health in pregnancy inviting regular members and anyone who had an interest or professional expertise in the subject, then followed it up with focused action.
We carried out a really effective parent and public engagement activity which was pivotal in securing the necessary funding for a beautiful birth centre.
As a result of productive 'listening events', we were able to improve women's postnatal experiences at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust.
Pregnant women in Halifax were kept informed about the temporary closure of their local birth centre and public pressure encouraged the NHS trust to re-open the alongside midwifery unit.
Breastfeeding Peer Supporters provide voluntary support on the postnatal Ward at University Hospital Lewisham to offer additional infant feeding support for mothers.
A ‘milk kitchen’ was set up in the Hull and East Yorkshire Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
We achieved a major refurbishment of the labour ward and improved information for women in early pregnancy.
Rachel Scarff initiated the role, drafted the practical details, and secured funding for a paid committee coordinator role with the clinical commissioning group (CCG).
MLSC members Shazma Waqas (user rep), Megan Waugh (Women's Health Matters) and Sheryl McMahon (SANDS) have made improvements in the support available to parents who have suffered a pregnancy loss.