Maternity & Neonatal Summit | 20-21 March 2023

Around 500 people gathered for this two day event in Leeds. As well as midwives, obstetricians, neonatologists and commissioner staff there were many MVP chairs, service user representatives and third sector colleagues. After so many online gatherings it was a delight to be able to have 1-1 conversations with people. 

National Maternity Voices had a stand backing on to the plenary hall so Hannah & Louise were able to listen to the speakers on the stage and also talk to anyone who came to see us. Thanks to Harrogate MVP for lending us their banner when we forgot ours.

There were great presentations from Jenny Tata, Clo Abe, and Sarah Wall emphasising the value of collaborating with service users.

Kelly Phizacklea moved many to tears with her poem about neonatal experience.  

We heard about the new quadrumvirate system of leadership in maternity and neonatal services: midwifery, obstetric, neonatal and management leads working together at local and at national level.  There was a strong emphasis on neonatal with maternity as shown in references to Maternity & Neonatal Voices Partnerships. The recently published Three Year delivery plan for maternity and neonatal services has more information.

One of the breakout sessions was a networking session for MVP chairs. There was a chance to try some co-production tools and discuss current challenges and successes. There were other sessions on listening to women, pelvic health, continuity of carer, informed choice, embedding safer care, equity plans and improving neonatal care. Some slides and output from sessions are on NHS futures here.   

The second day opened with questions to Donna Ockenden and Bill Kirkup. A question about MVP funding brought this response from Donna Ockenden: ‘The work of MVPs is vital. It’s profoundly insulting if the only person around the table not paid is the service user representative….Let’s change that today.’ 

The afternoon focussed on culture, improving staff relationships and demonstrating desired values (e.g. treating people as equals). Jacqui Dunkley-Bent (Chief Midwifery Officer) closed the conference reiterating the need to really hear families and support staff in order to improve.