Maternity Challenge Fund – Round 1

In 2015, NHS England launched the first round of the Maternity Challenge Fund. This followed a request from Ben Gummer, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Health Services, to understand how patient feedback can be used to best effect in improving care within maternity services. Two projects were funded during 2015/2016.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Morecambe Bay provides integrated midwifery, obstetric and neonatal care in both the community and hospital setting. Across the hospitals, feedback from service users regarding maternity services has previously been collected using a variety of different methods. From the analysis of the data gathered, the trust identified a regular issue of poor communication by staff, which had led to some very concerning incidents. Their Maternity Challenge Fund project focused on finding solutions for this.

Through this project, maternity services at UHMB have worked closely with partners from the Maternity Service Liaison Committee to develop creative, experienced based service user films. These powerful films describe how the communication styles of health professionals who women met throughout their maternity experience impacted on them and their families. The films give a voice to those affected and a sense of involvement in the cultural changes driven by the initiative.

The powerful stories have formed the basis of a multi-professional communication training toolkit, which has been developed in conjunction with Salford University and is aimed at all members of the maternity multi-professional team, from ward clerks, all frontline maternity staff, Allied Health Professionals, medical staff and other professions who may support women and their families while using maternity services. The toolkit prompts reflection on current practice and raises awareness of the impact of communication, good and bad; not only for the women and their families but also between members of multi-professional teams providing care to others.

Within the trust, the outcomes from the project form the basis of a training workshop for clinical practice educators so that they continue to develop a culture of positive communication skills as part of their training portfolio.

The trust has produced a toolkit for training maternity staff in improving their communications and listening skills. Copies are available to NHS organisations on request by contacting

There is also a short video about this project.

Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The aim of this project was to focus on three seldom heard groups of women and their families using maternity services: those with babies in neo-natal units (NNU); severely ill women and women faced with an unexpected life-threatening illness; and women who have miscarried at mid-term.

The project sought to bring a cross-cutting approach to working with woman and families to make sure they are at the centre of the improvement of the services they are using. The project enabled relationships to be developed both between groups of staff and between staff and service users – a powerful foundation for improvement creating innovative solutions alongside the motivation to implement them.

The project built on the work of an initiative previously carried out across several trusts in the capital, led by the London Maternity Clinical Network, which involved maternity experience – or #MatExp – workshops in the style of the ‘Whose Shoes ®’ values-led approach to change management.

The London Maternity Clinical Network hosts updated resources their website to support provider units and commissioners to share their learning and improve maternity services across London. The materials comprise a guide based on learning from a number of maternity experience workshops and a set of case studies containing improvement ideas.