Message from the Chair

I have now been the chair for a whole year. I am still so grateful for this opportunity to be the voice of women, birthing people and their families in Gloucestershire.

Like everyone the restrictions to keep us all safe during this pandemic have resulted in different challenges from starting a new role in these unprecedented times. I would like to start by saying a huge thank you to all the members of the MVP, who have been incredibly supportive and welcoming me into the Gloucestershire MVP team. Our monthly zoom catch ups are running smoothly and we’ve been able to continue working on priorities, attending training, being part of focus groups and collaboration projects.

I would also like to extend a thank you to the CCG and Hospital Trust for welcoming me this year. It is really encouraging to see the support being given towards the MVP, through more involvement and attendance at meetings, funding, co-production and keeping the voice of women and birthing people central to meetings.

The Ockenden report has impacted the way in which services and MVP’s engage and strengthened the importance of partnership working. I am hearted to see the first steps of this way of working becoming embedded through conversations exploring the most effective ways to work together and implementing this into a Standard Operating Procedure, which we look forward to being in place towards the start of 2022.

Towards the end of this year, we held our first face to face coffee morning, to promote the MVP, have a safe space to share experience and an opportunity to meet clinicians. This felt such a pivotal moment for this year, when many of us were able to meet face to face for this first time. Looking towards 2022, I hope that we can continue to do this in a safe way. As an MVP, it is vital that we are rooted in the community. Through the coffee morning and the live Your Maternity Voices, we hope to achieve this further going in 2022.

What has also struck me this year, is how big maternity services are. Navigating the systems and fully understanding it are incredibly tricky. I want to acknowledge all those families who have faced this during the pandemic, as this will have been even trickier for you. For me personally it is an ongoing learning journey that I look forward to continuing on, to learn more, have a deeper understanding of services, but also of the experiences of women and birthing people; so that I can challenge at the right time, in the most effective forum and to the right people who can action change and service improvement directly from the feedback you give us.

I also want to be able champion when care and compassion is being highlighted by you. Our Birth Experience Survey launched this year, and this is already improving the way in which we can share your experiences, collate data and understand themes and trends.

2022 feels promising, as we grow the MVP and build on the foundations set from previous years and the new changes this year. Thank you for taking the time to read our Impact Report and I am excited to share with you our highlights form this years and our plans going forward.


Birth Experience Survey

The core role of the MVP is to collect and share feedback about women and birthing people’s maternity journeys. Previously, the MVP ‘walked the patch’ on the postnatal maternity ward but this had to stop due to the Covid pandemic. This year, the MVP has developed a birth experience survey which can be accessed via a QR code on posters, or via our website.

We are really excited to now be able to share and report on birth experiences in a consistent way. This new way of collecting feedback also allows for a broader reach. Anyone who has had a home birth can also input, and we are not only listening to experiences of the women and birthing people who are on the postnatal ward when the MVP is visiting.

We launched this survey in August and provided a report in October, we are really looking forward to receiving a response from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, so that we can close the loop and let women and birthing people know the actions which have come about as a result of the survey responses.

At the time of writing, we are already looking at being able to report on nearly 6 times as many experiences than the period for August and September.

The survey link has been shared with all maternity units via posters on QR codes, and we are posting about the survey frequently on our social media channels.

Priorities from 2021


There are three members who are actively involved in this work.

  • Members are involved in implementing the National Bereavement Care Pathway
  • Members run a peer support group
  • Discreet stickers are being considered for notes to identify parents who have experienced baby loss
  • Planning a baby memorial garden/seating area

Perinatal mental health

At the start of this year we recognised that a lot of people may be struggling with their wellbeing due to lockdowns and restrictions around maternity care.

  • We increased information on our social media platforms about where to seek support
  • We held a live Facebook session with organisations that support people with mental health problems throughout pregnancy and parenthood.


Much of the feedback that the MVP receives and the way that families talk about their pregnancy and birth experience is that they were ‘told’, ’ or they ‘had to do…’ etc. As we know, all care should be agreed through joint decision making and informed consent, with families and their maternity services.

Due to this, we wanted to really focus on language, and challenge when we see language which is not inclusive or does not allow for joint decision making and informed consent.

Our Communications and Engagement Officer, Lisa, sits within the maternity communication and engagement meeting for Gloucestershire Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS), to bring to their attention when language is not ideal.

MVP members are also taking part in a film, which will focus on language, what good and bad care looks and feels like, personal experiences and ways to improve services. The film will be used as part of training for midwives.


This became a priority after we received feedback from a family who had experienced difficulties with forms, language and understanding of their situation by maternity staff.

The MVP has confirmed that the method of conception through a donation should not mean a high-risk pathway.

The MVP has been involved with work to engage with communities to establish an agreed language base, which is inclusive of all. Kathy contacted the Gender Inclusion Midwives in Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust to start this work, by understanding how they had produced their Gender Inclusion Policy.

Postnatal care

This year we have established links with the Health Visiting service, including hosting a live Facebook session explaining the universal offer.

We asked for feedback about the Health Visiting service; the reoccurring theme was that phones are not answered. With agreement from area managers, the MVP carried out a ‘secret shopper’ style phone message trail. Each team was left a voice message one evening and we tracked if they responded. Of the 17 teams, 15 responded with a call back, 1 responded by text and one number is no longer being answered, this was flagged with the team manager.

We have also started a project with the postnatal ward and the neonatal ward, to start a ‘what to expect as a new neonatal parent’ guide, written by an MVP member.

Cultural diversity

The MVP recognises that women and birthing people from health inequalities groups, especially Black and Brown people, have a significantly poorer experience of maternity services, and their risks are greater.

Our outcomes for the cultural diversity priority are:

  • The Chair and two members have attended Cultural Competency training
  • The chair now attends the Equality and Diversity work stream
  • Members have had input into films aimed at women and birthing people from Black and Brown communities
  • The MVP wrote to NICE to say we did not agree with the proposed new induction guidelines for Black and Brown women and birthing people

Infant feeding

In the Summer, we ran a survey asking about infant feeding experiences. The aim of the survey was to understand a bit more about how families choose to feed their babies, levels of support and next steps for improving services.

These are the main themes:

  • 85% felt very/somewhat supported in their feeding choice
  • 150 out of 200 responses did not feel they had enough information about feeding choices
  • Early signposting to community feeding support is important
  • Out of 200 responses, 52 reported having an issue with tongue tie
  • By 6 months, just over half the respondents were feeding their baby breastmilk

We are looking forward to receiving a response to this survey from Gloucestershire Hospitals.

Coproduction and engagement activities


  • Two members attended cultural diversity training


  • VBAC focus group
  • Reviewed Journey to Parenthood
  • Your Maternity Voice (Facebook live session) – Bereavement and overview of the MVP
  • Launch of BRAIN graphic


  • Gathered feedback about lateral flow testing
  • Trial new booking system
  • Involved with names for Continuity of Carer teams
  • Your Maternity Voice – Mental wellbeing


  • Input into health visiting films
  • Language focus group
  • Your Maternity Voice – Roadmap out of Covid restrictions


  • Asked to collect feedback on third trimester scan experiences
  • Your Maternity Voice – Introduction to Health visiting service


  • Launch of infant feeding survey


  • Your Maternity Voice – covid and vaccinations
  • Your Maternity Voice – Infant feeding


  • Asked for pelvic health feedback
  • Chair attended a two day cultural competency workshop facilitated by Sheffield Maternity Cooperative


  • Your Maternity Voice – Discussion around ICON campaign


  • Pelvic health service mapping event
  • Training – Engaging Inclusion Health groups
  • Your Maternity Voice – partners on the postnatal ward
  • Calls to HV teams to check response times


  • Coffee morning
  • Your Maternity Voice – covid update


  • Lots of planning for 2022!

The Ockenden Report

The Ockenden Report has been a major commitment this year. The MVP has been consulted on some of the work ongoing from the Ockenden report. As part of this, Kathy was involved in the Assessment and Action Planning, and provided a full report for CNST safety 7. This included a full gap analysis of Gloucestershire Hospital Trust website, and all their leaflets for maternity services. Feedback from Kathy was that a much fuller review needed to happen, with more people, to get a balanced and rounded view.

The Ockenden report has had an impact on how our MVP runs. We are now being invited to more meetings, with the focus of hearing women and birthing people’s voices being paramount.

The Covid-19 Pandemic

As with everything, we continue to feel the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the way the MVP operates. We had hoped to start face to face monthly meetings again, however these have all been over Zoom this year. We have asked our members for feedback regarding this and many felt that Zoom was more accessible and easier to fit into their days, some felt face to face meetings would be beneficial. Going forward we would like to alternate to give everyone the opportunity to attend and input.

When the Hospital Trust has been impacted by Covid-19, they have kept us updated. Early on in the year, one of the birth units had to close and has again closed in December. We have been informed through communications of this, and although this may not be what women and birthing people want, and the MVP would like to acknowledge this, we are also aware that these unprecedented times bring staff shortages and different priorities.

We have welcomed the Hospital Trust asking the MVP to sense check wording for letters, asking for feedback about the rollout of Lateral Flow Testing and their commitment to the Facebook live sessions to update women and birthing people on changes.

Read our strategy for 2022/23 here.