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: 

 

Useful resources

Sign up for our quarterly email for user reps in maternity services and research projects. This includes news about the latest resources and events, including update days (free to attend for all user reps) and training and workshops at other NCT events.

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 and Louise Griew. Laura also wrote a piece for the MatExp movement about her MSLC 

Read about NCT VOICES, the workshop developed by former NCT president Gillian Fletcher to enable all MVP and MSLC members to get the most out of multidisciplinary working. This page includes a checklist for you to use to assess how well your group is working and an exercise to help your group set their yearly priorities and workplan. 

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

Two women linking hands

Case study - 'Normalising birth' by improving information on birth choice in Lewisham

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.

Two children holding hands

Case Study - Improving support for women with mental health problems in Lewisham

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.

   
Man and woman linking hands

Case study - A better birth environment and a new birth centre in Surrey

We carried out a really effective parent and public engagement activity which was pivotal in securing the necessary funding for a beautiful birth centre.

Two men linking hands

Case Study - Improving women's postnatal experiences in Surrey

As a result of productive 'listening events', we were able to improve women's postnatal experiences at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust.

Man and woman linking hands

Case study - Promoting Calderdale Birth Centre to ensure optimal birthplace options

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.

Two men linking hands

Case study - Better breastfeeding support on the postnatal ward in Lewisham

Breastfeeding Peer Supporters provide voluntary support on the postnatal Ward at University Hospital Lewisham to offer additional infant feeding support for mothers.

Man and woman linking hands

Case study - Tailored infant feeding support using a 'milk kitchen' in Hull

A ‘milk kitchen’ was set up in the Hull and East Yorkshire Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Two men linking hands

Case study - Winning a refurbishment grant in Barnsley

We achieved a major refurbishment of the labour ward and improved information for women in early pregnancy. 

Man and woman linking hands

Case study - A paid coordinator for Norfolk and Norwich MSLC

Rachel Scarff initiated the role, drafted the practical details, and secured funding for a paid committee coordinator role with the clinical commissioning group (CCG). 

 

Snow drop

Case study - Leeds MSLC - Positive changes in bereavement support for parents

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.

     

Template MSLC documents (from Norfolk and Norwich Coordinator)