2.7 Appointing a service user leadership team (e.g. Chair/co-chairs and Vice-chair)

“​​Each Maternity Voices Partnership should have a chair, which may be managed through job-share or chair team. It is best practice for the chair to be a service user.” 

Implementing Better Births: a Resource Pack for Local Maternity Systems

Given the growing expectations of Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVPs), it’s likely that you will also need at least a Vice-Chair to work with your MVP Chair/co-chairs and you may decide to appoint leads for specific areas such as communications, diversity and neonatal services in order to have a service user leadership team leading your MVP. 

Some example role descriptions for chairs/co-chairs (PDF) and vice-chairs are available on the National Maternity Voices web site. You will need to ensure that the work expected of your service user leadership team is realistic within the budget available – or revisit your budget if this is not the case. 

We’d like to link to some examples of chair and vice-chair role descriptions for different models/stages/sizes of MVPs here. Does your MVP have current examples that are working well in your locality? If you’d be happy for this to be shared here, please contribute via this form. Please say if you would prefer your resource to be anonymised. Thank you.

“Local application, nomination and selection processes will need to be determined. The chair must have autonomy and be able to work as a critical friend, so election by the members is best practice. …

the Local Maternity System, commissioner or provider will need to assure themselves that the person elected is a suitable person to take on the role. The following principles may be helpful in this: 

  • The Chair should be able to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and experience to fulfil the role. 
  • The Chair must be able to demonstrate an ability to operate in the best interests of the group and the strategic objectives of the Maternity Voices Partnership. 
  • Have an up to date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.”

Implementing Better Births: a Resource Pack for Local Maternity Systems

It is likely that the MVP will nominate a small group to interview and select candidates for the chair role. This smaller group would then make the appointment subject to ratification by the whole MVP.

Concerns about the process may include:

  • Whether it will be fair and open
  • Whether it will encourage service users from diverse backgrounds to get involved
  • Whether the person selected will be suitable for the role.

Giving consideration to the following may help to reduce any concerns:

  • ensuring that the opportunity and process is widely advertised
  • encouraging diverse candidates, e.g. through targeted advertising
  • having a clear person specification for the role and a process for checking prior to the appointment that any candidates meet the person specification
  • providing informal opportunities for people to learn more about the role
  • aiming for a process which is not too onerous or unnecessarily daunting
  • adopting a general approach of prioritising accessibility and inclusion in the way that you set up your MVP (see highlighted sections of this Toolkit)
  • making provision to undertake Disclosure and Barring Service checks for those who are appointed.