2.6 Inviting staff and service user members

Once you have a budget and payment mechanism in place, you’re in a position to start identifying the potential members of your Partnership. This is likely to include:

  • new and experienced service users from diverse backgrounds including representatives from groups known to experience poorer maternity outcomes
  • post-holders from commissioner and provider organisations and other statutory partners such as Healthwatch
  • representatives from community organisations
  • independent birth workers in the wider community.

A detailed list of suggested roles to include as core and associate members is available in the model Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) Terms of Reference and there is also guidance on membership in Implementing Better Births: a Resource Pack for Local Maternity Systems.

The person coordinating the setup of the MVP can start to have conversations with the various partner organisations about who will attend, to invite interest on social media and to proactively contact any community groups, voluntary organisations and birth workers who may have contact with pregnant women, new mothers and their families. More information and ideas about how to ensure you’re reaching a diverse population of service users is available in ALL Maternity Voices – representing everyone in your area (PDF).

“This element is worth some good time investment as members and potential chairs will come via these conversations and interested parents can find out about what the MVPs might expect to achieve, how they work and what the remuneration arrangements are. The MVP link should expect to have conversations with people interested in the Chair and Vice-Chair roles prior to the first meeting, putting them in touch with more established MSLC/MVP Chairs where necessary in order that they understand what will be expected of them and what they may gain from such a role.”

Setting up a Maternity Voices Partnership: practical steps By Pauline Cross, Consultant Midwife in Public Health

An MVP benefits from a mix of current service users and more experienced service user advocates. Birth workers such as doulas, antenatal or postnatal leaders, or breastfeeding supporters are generally service users who have gone on to develop more service knowledge and advocate experience. They can play an important role in recruiting, mentoring and supporting newer service users to get involved.

Midwives, health visitors and community birth workers have regular contact with families and can help to identify service users who may be interested in getting involved. It can help if you make sure these people understand that you’re looking to recruit a diverse group of service users so they can be looking out for people who may bring different perspectives to the MVP.

Commissioner and provider organisations will need to identify named individuals who will be core members of the MVP; these individuals should have this as part of their job description or objectives. You can also issue an open invitation to maternity staff of all grades and disciplines to attend MVP meetings. The participation of, for example, support workers, students, admin staff or junior midwives can help to increase the diversity of the membership, reduce any sense of hierarchy, and lead to richer conversations.