Birth Tank event makes a splash for the Maternity Review

As we move into August, I wanted to take a moment to look at the progress the Maternity Review has made in July.

The highlight of the month for me was the Birth Tank event we held in London.

I invited a select group of real trail blazers in the world of maternity services. I’m sorry if you weren’t able to join us, the list of people I wanted to invite would have filled our room several times over! If you weren’t able to attend the Birth Tank event, we must make sure that you can feed in to the review in a different way.

The Birth Tank itself was absolutely fizzing with ideas. We had assembled a real community of experts and innovators, so I knew we had the wisdom we needed in the room.

During the day we asked people to think outside their professional roles, and we began with an ‘ethos’ for the day, suggested by Sir Sam Everington:

  • Be compassionate
  • Be a friend
  • Have fun
  • Assume it’s possible

I was struck by how everyone rose to the challenge. There was an impressive sense of optimism and a hunger for action.

There were far too many great ideas for me to list here, but one thing that came through loud and clear is that our review needs to be about making change happen. The group in the room won’t let this review end up with a report that sits gathering dust on a shelf. I couldn’t be happier with this response.

Elsewhere in the review, our work streams are generating ideas and building a consensus on what change needs to look like. We’ve continued to look at examples of great practice at home and overseas.

Next week we will embark on our series of drop-in events across the country and I hope that you’ll be able to join us at one of these. More details are available here. Unfortunately we’re not able to visit everywhere, but if you’re unable to come you can still get involved through our online consultation.

We’ve spent a lot of time this month developing this opportunity for you to have your say online. Please watch our website for more details on that very soon. In the meantime, if you have great ideas to share, or if you want to tell us about your experience, you can email us at

We’re using visits to different front-line services, meetings and our all-important drop-in events to collect great ideas, examples of maternity services working well, as well as accounts of people’s experience of maternity services, good and bad. All of this will help to influence our findings and plan for action.

Another landmark for the Review will come in October, when we gather in Birmingham for a second Birth Tank event, when we’ll share our emerging findings. I can’t wait.

Dr Julia Cumberlege

Baroness Julia Cumberlege CBE DL was appointed a Junior Health Minister in 1992 and for five years she covered all Health and Social Services matters in the House of Lords.

She has been commissioned by two Governments to produce two national reports: “Neighbourhood Nursing – a Focus for Care” and “Changing Childbirth”.

At the invitation of the Royal College of Physicians, Julia has chaired two working parties. The first report “Doctors in Society” was published in December 2005. The second, “Future Physician, Changing Doctors in Changing Times”, was published in May 2010.

From 2000 until July 2006, Julia chaired St George’s Medical School.