The role of Gloucestershire Maternity and Neonatal Voices Partnership is to gather and understand feedback and experiences from women, birthing people and families who use maternity and neonatal and services in Gloucestershire. This covers the whole maternity journey beginning with registering with a midwife, and includes pregnancy care, the birth experience, and postnatal care from midwives, health visitors, GPs and perinatal mental health services.

We listen to feedback and experiences through surveys, community engagement sessions, live interactive sessions on social media and focus groups. We attend meetings, including the Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) board meetings, to represent women, birthing people and families across Gloucestershire. We want to ensure your voice is used to inform service improvements.

We are independent of the NHS but aim to work closely and in partnership with services to help inform, challenge, bring about positive change and celebrate good practice.

Lead for Gloucestershire MNVP

This year we have become a Maternity and Neonatal Voices Partnership (MNVP). We are really pleased to formally include neonatal in our title. It is important that this also reflects an approach that meaningfully includes neonatal care in all our work. We continue to visit the neonatal unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. We also have plans next year to be involved in a quality improvement project, which will improve the experiences of women and birthing people and their families as they navigate receiving care from maternity and neonatal services at the same time.

At the start of 2024, Panorama aired a documentary focusing on maternity care in Gloucestershire. It also looked at the national picture for maternity care, and the need for investment.

As an MNVP, we responded to the documentary by hosting a series of listening events across Gloucestershire and heard from 19 women and birthing people. We wanted to provide these sessions to ensure that everyone had a space to talk, share experiences and ask questions. These sessions were not to offer therapy or clinical input, but we did signpost to other support organisations. Most importantly, we will be taking the feedback we heard at these sessions to decision-making meetings, to form part of the conversations around improving maternity care.

Your concerns, experiences (good and bad) and questions all help shape our understanding of what is needed locally.

The voice of people using services is at the core of coproduction. We have built on the success of the first Maternity and Neonatal Partnership Meeting last year, and this year have seen an increase in the number of service users and community stakeholders who attend. Thank you to everyone who has joined us at these events and shared their experience. Your voice does impact the actions that are taken from these meetings.

These meetings happen quarterly and offer opportunities for women, birthing people, their families, maternity teams, neonatal care staff, health visiting, commissioners and community support organisations to come together in one space; problem solving, discussing what is going well, and coproducing ideas and solutions.

During the year, NHS England published the new Maternity and Neonatal Voices Partnerships guidance, and Three-Year Delivery Plan was shared in March 2023. These documents have both highlighted the importance of listening to women and birthing people, with this being theme 1 in the Three-Year Delivery Plan. It is really reassuring to see that the importance of listening to women and birthing people now runs through all the recommendations.

MNVPs are increasingly involved with safety and governance, and we have welcomed this development. We look forward to the continued embedding of our MNVP across services so that we can ensure your voice is shared and heard.


Neonatal care

This year there has been lots of work to ensure that neonatal services are part of MNVPs. In Gloucestershire, there is still a way to go, and we are looking forward to implementing more next year, such as attending neonatal care governance meetings and ensuring that the voices of families with neonatal care experience are heard at all levels.

During 2023/24 we hosted two live social media discussions about the new clinical psychologist role on the ward, and about transitional care.

We have linked with the neonatal unit and the regional team to understand the best ways to collect feedback from families. At the start of the year, we supported a large survey to hear from families. We have also been part of discussions which have looked at the regional survey, so that the local unit can benchmark itself with others, and learn from units across the region.

We have a very active member, Hannah, who continues to champion the voice of families who have experienced neonatal care. She encouraged the use of stickers on the red books, so that health visitors can easily identify babies who have had a neonatal unit stay.

During the next year we will be continuing to support the quality improvement project which is based on feedback from neonatal experiences, and support Hannah to drive this project forward.


We are fortunate to have Louise in our team, as our community lead. Her passion is equity and ensuring that underrepresented voices are heard. This year Louise has focused her community engagement work in areas which we know have the most deprivation, diversity and need.

Our community group work has linked us to individuals who have experienced poor care and whose stories would have been lost without these relationships, we understand that it takes time to build trust within a community. We would like to thank everyone who has shared their experience with us. We will continue to strive to ensure that all voices are heard and represented at all levels.

Louise attended the Lives of Colour event in Cheltenham in 2023 and has been asked to be on the panel for 2024, after the group won funding for a specific baby and toddler area. We are pleased to be part of this growing event.


Recent reports and the Three-Year Delivery Plan have highlighted the importance of hearing from bereaved families. These families have the most adverse of outcomes, and we want to ensure that we learn from their experiences.

Kathy visits the Forget-Me-Not group every quarter and is building relationships with Miscarriage Mumma and other support organisations locally. We have also sought feedback about the bereavement garden being created at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. As part of ensuring that the MNVP is accessible for these families, we have created an area on our webpage especially for bereaved families, they can give feedback and it signposts them to support.

This year, our team attended bereavement training at the hospital to understand the local care offered. We have also attended trauma informed care training, so that we can be more aware of the language and sensitivity needed to support bereaved families.

Expanding to hear from the whole maternity journey – antenatal and postnatal surveys

In July 2023, we launched our antenatal and postnatal surveys. This means that women, birthing people and families can now tell us about their whole maternity journey.

These surveys can be responsive to particular areas that services might want to know about, by adapting questions and adding new sections. We are looking forward to seeing how this area of work will grow and inform care.

Personalised Care Planning

This year we hosted a live social media session about BadgerNotes, the new digital app for women and birthing people, which replaces their hand-held notes. BadgerNotes has a section in which women and birthing people can share what matters to them, so that their care plan can be personalised. Next year we are keen to look into how this section is used and what women and birthing people find useful when using it.

We have been involved in creating training videos about personalised care. Three service users were filmed talking about their experience of personalised care, what it looked and felt like, examples of when it hadn’t happened and the outcomes. This film will form part of mandatory training for maternity staff.

The MNVP has produced a poster about personalised care, and this will be displayed in clinic areas across the maternity units.

A MNVP member attends breast feeding training, which is delivered to all midwives and health visitors annually. We have received very positive feedback about having a real person, with real experience involved. It has helped staff to understand why all care needs to be personalised.

Health Visiting

We have undertaken work with the health visiting team this year to understand more about the transition from midwifery care to health visiting care. The experiences we have heard have helped to inform a quality improvement project. We held a focus group at one of our partnership meetings to get an insight into these experiences, as well as asking at community engagement.

Closing the loop

It is so important to close the loop when hearing feedback. It is of the upmost importance that people know that when they share their experiences, they are listened to, and action comes from it.

We have started sharing social media posts that show examples of ‘feedback into action’. We hope that by sharing this, women, birthing people and families across Gloucestershire will see the importance of sharing their experience and that it does have an impact.

Developing a relationship with the appointed Maternity and Neonatal Independent Senior Advocate (MNISA)

We participated in the recruitment process for the Maternity and Neonatal Independent Senior Advocate in Gloucestershire. More recently, we have worked with families to discuss suitable imagery and wording for communicating this service.

Maternity and Neonatal Partnership Meetings

We held our first Maternity and Neonatal Partnership Meeting in November 2022, and during the past year they have really grown in strength. We held four meetings during the year and have had more and more service users attending. We will continue to look at ways to make these more effective and meaningful for all attending.

Linking with students

Alongside the LMNS, we have presented to local students about what the purposes of the LMNS and MNVP are. We talked about who the teams are, their roles and the work we both do to support the provider Trusts.

Film for Partners

We have worked closely with Dad Matters to create a film which describes the pregnancy journey for dads and partners. The film covers which services you might come into contact with, and what to expect after birth, when mum and baby are staying on the postnatal ward.

Your Maternity Voice – Live Facebook Chats

We have hosted several Your Maternity Voice sessions on social media, most notably about BadgerNotes, CQC ratings, the birth unit relocations and Panorama. We use this channel to share updates and offer an opportunity to ask questions directly to maternity services.

Insight Visits

Insight visits are in their second year, and we have been invited to attend again. These visits are an opportunity to meet with the regional maternity team, hear updates about the service and engage with teams across maternity and neonatal to get their perspective of the current service.

Focus Groups – Infant Feeding Policy

We have reviewed the Infant Feeding Policy this year. Seven of our members attended a focus group to give feedback on the policy. We look forward to more opportunities like this, so that we can incorporate the voice of women, birthing people and their families at every level.

Cheltenham Birth Unit

Our members have attended planning sessions for the relocation and refurbishment of Cheltenham Birth Unit, looking at the proposed area and adding enhancement ideas, to improve the experience of women and birthing people and their families. Some ideas were to have a fridge available for expressed breast milk, dimmable lighting in the bathrooms attached to the birthing rooms and rails for using when in labour.

Antenatal scans in the Forest of Dean

Through engagement work and building up good relationships within the Forest of Dean community, Louise heard repeatedly the desire more local maternity care. The MNVP fed this back in various reports. During our December partnership meeting in Cinderford, we were pleased to invite Susan, the consultant midwife, who announced that ultrasound scanning will be offered on Thursdays at the new hospital in the Forest of Dean.

This partnership meeting was the first where we were able to offer a supermarket voucher to reimburse service users for their time attending the meeting, so it was great to see an increase in the number of service users who attended the meeting and were able to hear the developments around scanning provision.

Training for midwives

This year, the maternity practice development team invited us to be part of their filming days, which produce case study films to use in midwife training days. Louise attended this and was able to bring in feedback she had heard from an autistic service user, as well as her own personal experiences and learning.

Midwives and maternity care assistants attend specific training annually about breastfeeding, at these training sessions there is now an MNVP member talking about their experience, using this to help frame the training, the support that worked and learning points from a service user perspective. We are really pleased to see this view from a service user being part of training and informing practice.

Homebirth group at Cheltenham

There has been a home birth support group running in Stroud for some time. Through listening to feedback at antenatal clinics, Louise identified a need for a similar group in Cheltenham.

This year, we have been pleased to work with Cheltenham community midwives to set up a peer support home birth group at Cheltenham Birth Unit. The group has been very well received and attended so far.

These are some of the places we have visited over the last 12 months, to speak to women and birthing people about what matters to them.

  • Antenatal clinic and Cheltenham community team, Cheltenham
  • Homebirth support group, Cheltenham Aveta
  • Stay and Play, Hilltops, Cinderford
  • Playtrail, Oakley, Cheltenham
  • Cavern Tots, Gloucester
  • Gloucester antenatal clinic
  • Stay and Play, Bartongate, Gloucester
  • Willows Traveller Site, Gloucester
  • HAF, Aspire, Oakwood School, Cheltenham
  • Pride, Gloucester Park
  • Gardeners Lane, Continuity of Carer team
  • Neonatal ward
  • Redwell Rompers, Matson
  • Candi, Forest of Dean
  • Lives of Colour, Cheltenham
  • Honour Thy Woman co-production day
  • Cheltenham vulnerable antenatal clinic