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Pictured: The Dad’s Breakfast Club launch at the Nurture Shed in Middlezoy

Last year, 900 people shared their experiences of maternity care with the Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP).  In its first annual report, published today, the MVP highlights how they have worked with local families and care providers to improve the quality of maternity services in the county.

The MVP, which began work in 2019, is an independent forum for people to share their experiences with maternity services in Somerset.  They work with a wide range of NHS and voluntary sector organisations which provide maternity care and support, making sure that public feedback is used to help develop and improve local maternity services.

The MVP annual report outlines several significant changes that have been introduced to make maternity care better in Somerset, demonstrating the enormous value of listening to public feedback.

Greater inclusion and support for partners: The MVP worked with Somerset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to introduce the ‘DadPad’, providing information and support to help new fathers or partners develop the confidence and skills they need to care for their baby.  The MVP also launched a Dad’s Breakfast Club, giving men a place to go for support and to socialise with other fathers.

Better antenatal education:  The MVP used public feedback to help Somerset’s Hospital Trusts and Public Health to develop and improve antenatal support in Somerset.  This included the introduction of new antenatal classes in Taunton and South Somerset, and the launch of a new digital maternity toolkit across Somerset to support people through pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.

More personalised maternity care and continuity of care:  Through their work with the Local Maternity and Neonatal System, the MVP shared powerful real-life stories to help maternity care commissioners and providers understand how to provide better personalised care and continuity of care.

Improving quality and safety in maternity care: Through their work with the South West Maternity and Neonatal project, the MVP presented people’s real-life experiences of postpartum haemorrhage to inform quality and safety improvements in postnatal care.

Information and support during Covid-19: As pregnant people became anxious about the virus and the impact on their care options, the MPV was a vital link between those needing and providing maternity care.  They provided valuable information and support including virtual sessions for expectant mothers.  They also helped services understand and respond to people’s concerns, for example by introducing a dedicated maternity phone line and reinstating the option of face-to-face appointments.

Online survey about maternity care: Over 100 people completed the MVP’s online survey about their maternity care experiences during Covid-19 (April to November 2020).  The detailed survey results have been shared with those who provide maternity services in Somerset to inform future developments in maternity care.

Donna Butland, Chair of the Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership, said: “Since we launched Somerset Maternity Voices in 2019, we have made great strides to bring the voices of Somerset families into the development of maternity services in Somerset.  We’ve connected with communities across the county, finding out about the changes and support people want and need.  We’ve raised awareness and understanding of what is important to women, birthing people, their babies, and their families, and built productive partnerships that have led to some really positive changes in maternity care.  I would like to thank everyone who has shared their story with us, as well as our volunteers and those we work with who share our commitment to improving maternity care in Somerset by listening to local people.”

Becky Applewood, Deputy Director of Women’s and Children’s Health, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, commented: “Reading this report reminded me of how much our Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) has achieved in the last two years.  The increased understanding that comes from true engagement with local women and their families, and involving them in developing maternity services, cannot be underestimated.  We would encourage all Somerset women and families who are involved with maternity services to share their stories with the MVP as their feedback really influences decisions and service development.  We would also like to thank Donna and her team for their hard work.  We look forward to continuing our work together to give Somerset families the best possible maternity experience.”

Read the full publication: Somerset Maternity Voices Annual Report 2019/20.

Find out more and keep up to date with the work of the Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership by visiting: healthwatchsomerset.co.uk/somerset-mvp/ and follow their social media.