National Maternity Voices have developed an information pack for Service User Representatives Service User Representative Information Pack (PDF 505 kb)
Have a look at the Get Involved section of the NHS England website for more information on how people and communities can help the NHS to improve all aspects of health care, including patient safety, patient experience and health outcomes.
All members joining the Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) – or considering becoming a member – need clear information about the purpose of the committee, expectations for people in their role.
If you are a new user rep, remember your experience and perspective as a service user and your local connections with parents are what matters most of all.
- You may feel motivated to read around relevant subjects, or have very limited time. Pace yourself and do as much as you feel able to do, but not more.
- Don’t feel you have to read a lot, never mind everything! But if you can, read little and often. Ask others what they read and value and start there.
- You can get news updates from a few relevant Twitter accounts and Facebook groups – and do ask the MVP Chair for help
MVP information and resources
Some or all of the following information will be needed by all members (and people considering joining the group). It could be made available both online and in hard copy.
- MVPs in the healthcare system – interrelationships in the local maternity system
- The MVP terms of reference
- Roles and specifications for MVP chair and members
- Sources of information: Voluntary and professional organisations
- Names and contact details of current MVP members
- Previous annual reports from the MSLC /MVP
- Expense claim forms
Peer support for service user reps
It can be a great help to talk to other reps in your own area and in other parts of the country. Check out the following:
- MSLC and MVP Chairs and Service User reps Facebook group is a fantastic place to connect with other service user reps from across the country.
- MVP Chairs Facebook group is a private peer support group and communication channel for independent lay MVP chairs in England, to network and share different approaches to various aspects of MVP work.
- National Maternity Voices Facebook group is a private, multidisciplinary group for all those involved with setting up, developing and running and participating in a Maternity Voices Partnership.
It’s also useful to network with other MVPs/service users in your LMS. Contact your regional representative for information about active Whatsapp groups or other social media spaces for your area.
Local reports and reviews
There are likely to be a range of local documents that may interest you and be relevant to your work. Ask about, or listen out for references to the following:
- Information provided by the local NHS trust to women and families
- Local population profile and Joint Strategic Needs Assessments for maternity
- Sustainability and Transformation Plan for maternity
- Local delivery plan/operational plan
- Annual report of the local Director of Public Health / Joint Area Review reports
- Care Quality Commission local review reports
- Surveys of maternity and neonatal services
- Reports from the Clinical Network
- Service Level Agreement for maternity services
- Local Health Improvement Programme / Children and Young People Plan
- Organisation chart/flowcharts for staffing and care in local units
- Guidelines for clinical care in your unit, or local network of provider units.
Maternity and children’s services information
Information about maternity, women’s health, public health and child health is available from many sources. There are national policy reports, reviews of services, research studies, quality standards, guidelines on service user involvement and clinical practice, and more. Ask your MVP Chair, Head of Midwifery, service user reps or simply search online. Ask other people what they read and value. See for example:
- Better Births Report of the National Maternity Review (2016)
- Websites of Department of Health, Healthwatch, NHS England, Public Health England, NICE, National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (e.g. Birthplace in England and MBRRACE reports), Cochrane Collaboration
- Child and maternal health data and intelligence: a guide for health professionals
Finally, many service users benefit from involvement in co-production activities in both service development and research. It can increase your skills and confidence, providing personal development. New experiences and responsibilities can be noted on your CV.
However, some service users have reported feeling isolated or over-committed and stressed. An exhausted service user is not a happy or healthy one. Nor are they a good role model for others. Everyone needs to know their own limits and appropriate boundaries. Everyone benefits from peer support in their role.
Service users can connect with other service users and with supportive clinicians and commissioners. Both locally and on online forums, you will find you have a lot in common and a lot to share. Often, this connection will help you see your own strengths more clearly, too.