There are ongoing discussions about how to ensure that parents with experience of neonatal services are involved with Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVPs), Local Maternity Systems (LMSs) and at regional and national levels. Following conversations with the national neonatal service user representative and listening to the concerns that MVP chairs are raising, we felt it would be helpful to clarify the role of MVPs in listening to neonatal feedback. Many MVPs are exploring how to build on their work with neonatal parents, and a number have pioneered new models for engaging with them.
Our recent survey of MVP chairs showed that about 1 in 4 of them have experienced a baby in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) or a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). National statistics show around 1 in 7 babies spend time in SCBU/NICU; so neonatal care is a common experience for parents.
We believe that MVPs [and its precursor Maternity Services Liaison Committees (MSLCs)] have always had a remit which covers neonatal voices (see membership list in the template terms of reference on our website). We also know that parents see their neonatal experiences as part of their maternity care. However, service users can experience disjointed care between maternity and neonatal services and MVPs can play a vital part in coproducing integrated care for families.
So we suggest that:
- MVPs listen to neonatal experiences as part of their remit, like other key aspects of maternity.
- MVPs and/or linked Neonatal Voices groups should be resourced to enable coproduction of improvements to neonatal care.
- MVPs aim to have at least one service user representative who takes a particular interest in neonatal care and keeps neonatal voices in MVP discussions and work.
- Neonatal staff should be represented on the MVP and ensure that parents using neonatal services are aware of how they can get involved in the MVP.
- MVPs need not change their name and as they are public facing, changing the acronym, MVP, could confuse service users and others who are just getting used to it.
MVPs are autonomous local groups and will make their own decisions about these issues. We value the diversity of approaches amongst MVPs and are interested to hear feedback about this statement.