Maternity challenge fund

Three projects have each being awarded £50,000 by NHS England to explore innovative ways to use women’s and their partners’ feedback to improve maternity services.

In this second round of the Fund, trusts were invited to apply for funding from a total pot of £150,000 set up to support further advances in this area, linked to the overarching ambitions of Better Births.

A judging panel from NHS England and the Department of Health selected the winners from almost 50 applications for support from the Maternity Challenge Fund, which was set up last year to encourage new approaches to using feedback to drive improvement in the experiences of women and their families while they are receiving maternity care.

The vision for maternity services across England is for them to become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family friendly; where every woman has access to information to enable her to make decisions about her care; and where she and her baby can access support that is centred on their individual needs and circumstances.

Patient feedback plays a key role in understanding the actual experiences of women and their families during maternity, from their perspective, and determining whether and how services need to improve. The Maternity Challenge Fund builds on the success of the Friends and Family Test and supports NHS England’s plans for more effective use of patient insight data.

It provides an opportunity to test the feasibility of ideas for adding value from patient feedback in maternity services and to see whether, in practice, they work and could be transferable to other trusts.

The emphasis for this second round is on projects that continue to focus on service improvement but also address one of the following areas of potential use for patient feedback:

  • Making the best use of feedback given about individual clinicians or other named staff, for example, how FFT or other tools for gathering patient feedback could potentially contribute to such things as revalidation of clinicians, staff recognition schemes or individual staff performance management processes.
  • Exploring the potential to attribute feedback to named patients where they choose to identify themselves, in pursuit of improving their individual care or finding out more about areas of concern.

The Maternity Challenge Fund is overseen by the Insight & Feedback Team, who can be contacted at

Winning projects

Projects from the previous round of the Maternity Challenge Fund

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay

Improving the Culture of Communication of the Maternity Multidisciplinary Team through Experience Based Co-design, Communication Training Toolkit. The project will develop a more intense, innovative and radical approach to addressing negative patient experience and develop a cultural change in communication across maternity teams. Using patient feedback and involvement of families, real stories and experiences, this project aims to develop a training video describing how communication impacts upon service users.

Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

“Nobody’s patient”, seriously ill women and babies falling through the gaps – a #MatExp extension project. The project will design and develop content that will enable service users and health care providers to discuss local successes and challenges, leading to collaborative improvement work. A new toolkit will be developed to explore collection and use of feedback from seldom heard groups: families with babies in neo-natal units (NNU); severely ill women faced with an unexpectedly serious illness in pregnancy or the immediate postnatal period and women who miscarry in the second trimester.

These projects have now been completed and we will shortly publish details of how to access their outcomes and shareable materials.