Think every woman deserves a great birth?
Then read on to get involved. Gail Precious, Vice Chair of Greenwich MSLC, outlines the importance of Maternity Service Liaison Committees, what they do (and have already done for Gin Fund families) and how you can get involved.
Yup, I’d never heard of it either. And yet, here I was in a room of very passionate women who wanted to set up one.
What’s an MSLC?
It’s a chance to make your voice heard.
It’s a space for sharing knowledge and improving best practice.
It’s the chance to improve your local Maternity Services so every woman continues to gets the support and care needed throughout pregnancy and post-natally.
And better yet – you can get involved.
Maternity Services Liaison Committees should be established in any borough where there are women who have a need for maternity services. That should be every local authority in England but there are many areas where there is no current committee.
MSLCs are formed of leaders in maternity services (midwifery and health professionals), representatives from the local authority and the Clinical Commissioning Group (the team who decides what is needed in the area and how it should be funded) and other local organisations involved in any aspect of ante natal and post natal care. Most importantly, these committees involve you – what makes MSLCs so good and so effective are the parents who join in, support initiatives and feedback about how their maternity services are delivered.
We Gin Funders are lucky – there are FOUR in the area covered by the Gin Fund: Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley. All of them have been very busy in the last year.
Parents of Bromley – this is what your MSLC has done for you:
- Developed a poster for each birthing room at Princess Royal University Hospital, outlining advice and tips to help make each birth personal to the parents using the room;
- helping to shape mental health provision for parents in Bromley;
- improving two birthing rooms at Princess Royal so they are ‘home from home’ environments
That’s not all – they have also been establishing ‘Walk the Patch’ and consulting with brand new mothers and babies on the Post Natal wards and in children’s centres in the borough. Think this work is amazing and want to get involved? Contact the Bromley MSLC on [email protected] or find them on Facebook.
Parents of Lewisham – this is what your MSLC has done for you:
- Ensured that baby cafes in Lewisham continued to receive funding so mothers have a safe and supportive place in the community to visit and breastfeed in
- Designed and promoted a ‘place of birth’ poster so each woman has the chance to review options and choose the best option for her and her family
- Improved the ante-natal reception waiting area by providing a variety of books around pregnancy and birth to read
Plus continuing to ‘Walk the Patch’ and talk to new parents about the service they received, feeding back to key maternity professionals for discussion and improvement. Want to learn more? Contact the Lewisham MSLC – also known as Maternity Voices – on [email protected] or find them on Facebook.
Parents of Greenwich – this is what your MSLC has done for you:
- Developed, circulated and promoted a short survey about current experiences of mental health throughout pregnancy and post-natally to inform the new peri-natal mental health strategy
- Engaged and advocated for refurbishment of the post-natal ward at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Woolwich, which is currently underway.
- Advocated and liaised with key maternity professionals to review midwife caseloads, with the proposed outcome that each woman will have a named midwife throughout pregnancy, providing continuity of care.
Additionally, the Greenwich MSLC has also been ‘Walking the Patch’, reaching out on social media and talking to parents in the area for their feedback and experiences. Sounds like something you could help out with? Then contact the Greenwich MSLC on Facebook or at [email protected]
Parents of Bexley – this is what your MSLC has done for you:
- Developed strong links with the trusts MSLC that our families use.
- Created access for all eligible Bexley women to receive free vitamin D supplements, to bring Bexley in line with the other areas we border.
- Developing positive relationships with private maternity providers within the area.
What’s very important to note is that women in Bexley do not have access to a hospital with a maternity ward in their area. This means that they have to choose a hospital in another borough – a hospital that they may not necessary visit normally nor know about. Want to help support women and their families in Bexley? Contact the Bexley MSLC on [email protected] or find them on Facebook.
And the best bit? These MSLCs – all of them – are run by local mothers. Yup, women like you who wanted to make positive change in their community.
Think Dads and other partners are being short changed here? You are absolutely right. We are trying hard to get more dads or partners involved. Have a great idea about how to get fathers and partners more involved and less on the outside? Then please let any of the MSLCs know – we would be delighted to hear from you.
Are you a member of an MSLC not covered above? Then the Gin Fund reach is bigger than we thought! Get in touch with your neighbouring MSLC – we are better together.
So, reading this and not sure what you can do or don’t feel you can commit to supporting one of the MSLCs above?
Here’s something simple and effective: sign this petition. It’s aiming to save the very special role of Supervisors of Midwives. This position ensures practice excellence – so that you, the people using maternity services, get the best possible service. Currently, the recommendation is to remove this role – and this would mean that we would lose leadership within the sector, right when the NHS needs leadership more than ever. Signing the petition would help to start a bigger conversation about this particular recommendation and ensure our voices are heard.