Personal Maternity Care Budgets: A new way forward

I’ve now been the Assistant Head of Patient Choice for three months and I increasingly feel that I’ve joined at the most exciting time for the Maternity Pioneers and the Maternity Transformation programme as a whole.

NHS Change Day fell almost five months to the day that we announced the seven Maternity Pioneer sites and as we discussed and reflected on #MatExp and #MatImp, it was as Pioneers were driving forward their plans for launching pilots of Personal Maternity Care Budgets (PMCBs) within their areas.  By the end of this financial year there will be women in sites across the country benefiting from a more open and transparent conversation about the choices available to them and choosing how they are supported in each stage of their maternity and birth journey.

PMCBs are a tool which allow the system to ensure that the funding of maternity services follows the choices that a woman makes.  A key element of our vision for maternity services is for them to become more personalised, with choice offered at every opportunity. The Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers are a key driver for the personalisation and choice work stream, making sure that maternity care is tailored to women, their baby and their families.  They are testing PMCBs as a means to achieving this.

Women in Pioneer areas will start to see choices available to them across CCG boundaries, new services being commissioned or new providers being offered.  The Pioneers have each developed a plan which is based on the needs and drivers for their local systems, to increase the choices available to a woman.  They have been working with local stakeholders and women to co-develop what this will look like in their locality and I am excited to see the outcomes of this work, how the experience is different for the women and whether they feel more empowered to make the choices that are right for them.

As this important work commences, NHS England has also announced the Early Adopters, who will focus on implementing the recommendations in Better Births.  We are excited that Birmingham United Maternity Partnership (BUMP) and Cheshire and Merseyside within the Pioneer programme are also involved in this work and will be able to share their learning of implementing the full suite of recommendations.  We will continue to develop best practice learning and system tools based on the Pioneer experience and I look forward to Pioneers and NHS England sharing these and seeing the effect of women being empowered at a key time in their lives.

Today the first Pioneer, Cheshire and Merseyside, is launching their initial PMCB offer to women at selected GP surgeries in Liverpool.

As we start to see local launches of Personal Maternity Care Budgets, we have also published some national Q&As to address some of the questions people have about PMCBs and how they will work.

Jennie Walker

Jennie Walker joined NHS England in March 2016 and is currently the Assistant Head of Patient Choice in the Personalisation and Choice Group.

Jennie is the lead on the Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers who are focused on widening choice across CCG boundaries and deepening choice by providing opportunities for new providers; empowering women to take control through Personal Maternity Care Budgets (PMCBs); and enabling women to make decisions about the care that they receive.

Jennie is a solicitor with experience working with personalisation in social care through her previous role at the Independent Living Fund. She also has a Masters in Public Administration.