The maternity lay representative – #MSLC #MatExp

I was recently asked to write a ‘Day in the Life’ to be part of a feature on maternity people in a journal. I wrote two versions, one an actual day (our April MSLC meeting day), and the other this more reflective piece. I thought that explaining ‘how I got started with this, and what happened then’ might be more helpful than ‘what I do now’. The editor chose the hour-by-hour day. So I am posting this here now as a companion piece to my blog about the NHS Constitution: for maternity commissioners – to explain a little about what volunteer service user MSLC members ‘do’, other than attending formal meetings.

Also acknowledging my many service user rep colleagues for the hours and hours of unpaid time you commit to the work. Those who tell their own stories; those who stay and facilitate the involvement of others. The time listening to women and families; the planning and prep time; the writing up; the meetings; the reading things that make your head hurt (research, policy) because if we join in knowing more of that stuff, maybe we can be more effective – maybe we’ll be heard. Because it takes many working together to see something like the whole picture, and to say clearly, together, that no one of us has the right to speak for all women, or to tell women in general ‘what to think, what to do.’ (6 May 2016) Continue reading

The NHS Constitution & The Berwick Report: service user involvement & co-design

Notes for MSLC Members & Maternity Commissioners

The NHS Constitution, and the 160-page Handbook, that accompanies it are interesting & exciting documents. Worth a browse if you are interested in co-design as an MSLC member, whether a service user or professional member. Key to your work if you are a maternity commissioner. Here are some notes from an hour, a cup of coffee, and some musing on what this means for us in maternity (as at 1st May 2016)

So, looking at and working with the NHS Consititution:

  • Some highlights
  • Driving improvement in maternity care
  • Designing services
  • A message to Commissioners – benefits of involvement & co-design

Continue reading

Awaiting the National Maternity Review report

January 2016. We’re awaiting the publication of the National Maternity Review report and recommendations. The work has been undertaken in less than a year. If you haven’t read the 1993 Changing Childbirth Report, which was also chaired by Julia Cumberledge, do borrow a copy and read it soon – lots has changed since then, but not enough. (Who would have thought that in 2015 22% of women* having a straightforward vaginal birth would give birth in stirrups?)

This is a very long post – you’ll see why. Best to say aloud now, I think, what my concerns were at the outset of the current review. I am hoping so very much to have been needlessly worried. I wish so very much for everything to turn out well – for the recommendations to be evidence-based and excitingly forward-looking. I know that all involved are sincere and well-intentioned. If bringing about changes in maternity care were a simple thing, though, Changing Childbirth would have changed the world more than it did. Continue reading

The history of maternity care – knowing the journey matters

The starting point for this post is an article about birth, from The Guardian, in December 2014. It was published in response to the updated clinical guideline NICE CG190 Intrapartum Care – care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth.

The Guardian article:

We talked about this article on the #MatExp Facebook group in September this year. This is an edited version of what I said in reply to concerns there that the tone of the article might be seen as offensive towards the medical profession: Continue reading

NICE CG190 #IPCare cup of tea challenge!

Smaller hedgehog

Calling all midwives, maternity lay advocates, doulas, obstetricians and other doctors concerned with birth, and students too! And commissioners and Clinical Commissioning Group clinical advisers too – so important.


You need to read the recommendations. Really, you do.

Because after that we’re going to do the updated chapters of the full guideline, chapter by chapter.

It’s fun. And it’s important.

Take the cup of tea challenge!

Cup of Tea

One hour

Read the NICE #IPCare recs Link here

Tweet something!              #IPCareTea

Catherine Williams@BerksMaternity #MatExp #mslc

MSLCs – new Department of Health guidelines coming soon

Great news that the 2006 Department of Health MSLC guidelines are being updated – publication of the new guidelines expected soon. Reflecting on where we are now, with thanks to Midirs for permission to post, here is my article from April 2015 on MSLCs.

What are MSLCs? How do they work? What do they contribute in maternity?  Also includes some thoughts on the experience of being a NICE Lay Member (Intrapartum Care, CG190, 2014)

Essentially Midirs April 2015 – Collaborative Working – MSLCs

(Download pdf)