Feedback and Complaints
Our factsheet on making a complaint explains the steps you can take if you are unhappy about the maternity care you are personally receiving or did receive. It includes advice about taking your complaint to the Ombudsman, referring a member of staff to a regulator, and about taking legal action.
Local and National Advocacy
If you want to do more to bring about change in maternity services more generally here are some ideas to consider:
Join your local Maternity Voices Partnership
Maternity Voices Partnerships bring together service users, maternity professionals, commissioners, and others with the aim of improving local maternity services. You can find your local MVP in England here: http://nationalmaternityvoices.org.uk
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland these bodies are called Maternity Service Liaison Committees (MSLCs).
Your local Healthwatch will also gather themes and feedback about local health services. Some are more active on maternity issues than others. You can find more information on the Healthwatch website. Healthwatch offer a short, online form to complete, to offer feedback on your experiences of NHS and Social Services care.
Write to your local Trust/Board or Clinical Commissioning Group
If there is a particular issue you feel strongly about you could write to the Chief Executive and/or the Director/Head of Midwifery of your local Trust or Board (details should be found on the Trust/Board website or alternatively you can call the Trust/Board).
In England, health services are commissioned by local Clinical Commissioning Groups led by GPs so it can be worth contacting the CCG or copying them into your letter as well. The NHS website holds more information and a postcode finder for finding out which is your local CCG.
Birthrights has produced template letters that you can use to write to NHS Trusts about visiting restrictions during COVID: https://www.birthrights.org.uk/template-letters/
Write to your Member of Parliament, Member of Scottish Parliament or Assembly Member
You can also write to your Member of Parliament or Assembly Member. You can find contact details on theyworkforyou.com. This site also provides details of how to tweet your Member of Parliament in the event that you can’t establish contact with them by email.
You should be clear about what action you want your MP, MSP or AM to take. They could raise the issue with your local Trust or Board, or they could raise the issue with the relevant Government Minister by writing directly to them, or by asking a Parliamentary question.
You may also want to send your email to one or more of the following people who hold senior positions in the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Departments of Health:
If you live in England:
- Nadine Dorries MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care email@example.com
- NHS England Maternity Transformation team firstname.lastname@example.org
- Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent , Chief Midwifery Officer , NHS England email@example.com
- Your local MP.
If you live in Scotland:
- Jeane Freeman MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport CabSecHS@gov.scot
- The Maternity and Children Quality Improvement Collaborative firstname.lastname@example.org
- Professor Ann Holmes, Chief Midwifery Advisor & Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government email@example.com
- Your local MSP
If you live in Wales:
- Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan.Gething@assembly.wales
- Wales Maternity and Neonatal Network Contacts firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
- Karen Jewell, Nursing Officer for Maternity and Early Years, Welsh Government Karen.Jewell@gov.wales
- Your local AM
If you live in Northern Ireland
- Dr Dale Spence , Midwifery Officer, Department of Health, NI Dale.Spence@health-ni.gov.uk
- Robin Swann MLA Minister of Health in the Northern Ireland Assembly firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr Patricia Gillen & Dr Maria Healy (Chairs of the Home Birth Group) email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Birthrights have created a template letter to Members of Parliaments and Assembly Members about visiting restrictions during COVID. You can find that here: https://www.birthrights.org.uk/template-letters/
Start a petition
If a number of you feel strongly about a particular issue, you could start a petition. You can use the parliamentary site: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/new or a site such as www.change.org or www.38degrees.org Please note that only a petition with over 100,000 signatures created on the Parliament site will lead to a debate in Parliament on the issue.
Make a freedom of information request
You have the right to ask to see recorded information held by certain public authorities.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA) give you the right to see information. You can request information from some public authorities, such as government departments and all parts of the NHS including hospitals, Trusts and GP surgeries.
You must make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in writing. You can do it by:
- social media
- online form - check the organisation’s website or the government department’s page to see if they have an online form
If you cannot make your request in writing because of a disability, contact the particular public authority or NHS Trust. They should help you to make the request another way - for example over the phone.
It is always worth checking the website and/or social media for the relevant NHS Trust or other public body as they may have already made the information available to the public.
You can also check the relevant NHS Trust’s website for responses to previous FOI requests. This is sometimes known as a ‘disclosure log’. You can also email or phone the organisation to ask if they’ve already published the information or responded to an FOI request.
What to include
In your FOIA request, you should give:
- your name
- a contact postal or email address
- a detailed description of the information you want - for example, you might want all information held on a subject, or just a summary
You can ask for information in a particular format, such as:
- paper or electronic copies of information
- audio format
- large print
For more detailed instructions and further information, please see: https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-information-request/how-to-make-an-foi-request
Use Social Media
Social media can be a really useful tool for connecting with others who are interested in the same issues and for getting your messages out. You can follow and share resources from organisations like Birthrights (@birthrightsorg, birthrightsorg #birthrights) and other campaigning organisations.
Our #BasicBirthrights Campaign could be a good starting point for discussions with others on social media: https://www.birthrights.org.uk/campaigns-research/basicbirthrights/
Contact local media
Local press and radio stations may well be interested in a story about local maternity services.
If you do not feel campaigning is for you, raising money for Birthrights or other charities doing work you feel passionately about, is a fantastic way to make a really valuable contribution.
You can make a one off donation to Birthrights, or set up a regular direct debit here: https://www.birthrights.org.uk/support-us/donate-or-fundraise/
Many charities rely heavily on volunteers in their work. At Birthrights we are keen to create permanent roles in the team as much as possible where we have identified a need but we advertise any specific or short term opportunities via email or on social media. If you are interested in volunteering for us please leave your details here: https://goo.gl/forms/VNzZxxWCAz0TwU5z1. We are particularly interested in hearing from people who have creative skills such as graphic design, or photography.