Making a Complaint
Many of the stories contained on this website include stories not only of difficulty but of births which violated women's rights - demonstrating a lack of informed consent, disrespect and neglect, and some revealed assault.
If you would like to complain about your treatment in a maternity service, the first place to contact is your local PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) who can give you advice and help you make a complaint. You can also contact NHS England or your local Clinical Commissioning Group (more info here).
AIMS (Association for Improvements in Maternity Services produce a leaflet about making complaints, and you can find a lot of information on their website. Birthrights, the only UK organisation devoted to protecting human rights in birth, also have information about making a complaint Both websites offer a great deal of further information about your rights and choices during birth.
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) began operating on 1 April 2017. They offer an independent service for England, guiding and supporting NHS organisations on investigations, and also conducting safety investigations.
There are huge changes happening around the UK as part of the Maternity Transformation Programme You are welcome to become involved in these changes, and feedback about your own experience of local maternity services, by joining your local Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP). This is a new development, updating previous Maternity Services Liaison Committees (MSLCs). You can find your local MVP here, or guidance on setting one up.
Continuity of care is highlighted as an aim on page 42 of the recent NHS Long Term Plan and in a Neighbourhood Midwives case study - click images to read more
Don't forget that you can also lobby your MP if you want to see improvements in your local maternity services. Jeremy Hunt, former Health Secretary, pledged that all stillbirths and birth injuries would be independently investigated. This is great news, but ignores the fact that inadequate staffing, inadequate resources and heavy workload are frequently to blame for loss and injury (see the newly published MBRRACE-UK report for more details). Mr Hunt admitted the need for more midwives, but staffing levels for both midwives and obstetricians are currentlydangerously low (see here too). Without a vast increase in funding, maternity services will be increasingly under-resourced. Overstretched professionals are simply not able to provide compassionate (or even safe) care, so if we really want to make birth better, we need to ensure our maternity services are properly staffed. We also need to ensure they are properly supported in dealing with their own trauma from attending difficult births.