What the national maternity team should know: action for June #MatExp

The news that there was to be a national review of maternity services in England, led by Dame Julia Cumberledge, was more than welcomed. The process is now underway, and details of progress is filtering though.  So, in the month of June, I am inviting blog posts from individuals who feel they have information to offer the team. I hope this will be a helpful resource for all. Read here for more information.

To start us off, who better than the originators of #MatExp…a grassroots community established to maximise opportunity for improved maternity care. Gill Philips and Florence Wilcock started the campaign. Gill is the creator of Whose Shoes?, and a chapter author for our book, The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care, and Florence Wilcock, is an obstetrician and clinical leader.  

Please welcome Florence and Gill...they wrote the post below!


We would like to kick off Sheena's June blogging series with a strong call for the Maternity Review Team to engage with our fabulous #MatExp grassroots community. We need to build on all the amazing work that has been happening over recent months through this passionate inclusive group.

So what is #MatExp and how did it come about?  Well, Florence wrote about it here.  


we made this short video when, due to the phenomenal grassroots energy it had inspired, #MatExp was included as a major campaign in NHS Change Day, 2015

Users of maternity services came forward not only to join the various actions but to initiate and lead them themselves. You can check out the actions here but they cover everything from appropriate language, postnatal support, best practice and experiential learning – including many male obstetricians spending time in the lithotomy position!

Florence is a passionate obstetrician and clinical leader, who was asked by the London Strategic Clinical Network to find ways to improve maternity experience in response to a poor CQC report identifying that six of the seven worst trusts in the country for maternity experience were in London. Florence approached me, Gill, the creator of Whose Shoes?,  to co-produce some challenging Whose Shoes? maternity scenarios and run a series of workshops, getting users and professionals and all other interested parties – NCT, MSLCs, everyone! - to work together as equals and come up with imaginative solutions. 

With support from NHS England, five very successful and fully subscribed workshops were held across London.

 Queen’s Hospital session in action

The combination of the face-to-face workshops and the social media network have been extraordinary, with lots of overlaps. For example Helen Calvert and Leigh Kendall, two of the mums now helping lead the campaign, came down to London to join the workshops and they also contributed to the #MatExp NHS 6Cs webinar.

The Whose Shoes? Workshops, supported by a full leadership and facilitation toolkit kit developed in partnership with the London SCN and NHS, are now planned at other London hospitals and spreading to other parts of the UK, including a session in Guernsey at the end of June. There is a lot of cross-fertilisation of ideas between localities and between hospitals, with a strong emphasis on building relationships and collaborations. Each workshop culminates in pledges and a local action plan, formulated by the people at the workshop and encapsulated in a powerful graphic record. Inevitably the themes are similar between the different sessions but with a strong local emphasis and most importantly local ownership, energy and leadership.

It would be easy for the NHS Change Day campaigns to lose momentum after the big day itself, (11 March 2015). #MatExp has done the opposite, continuing to build and bring in new people and actions. #MatExp #now has 110 million Twitter impressions. We have just finished the '#MatExp daily alphabet', a brilliantly simple idea to get people posting each day key issues related to the relevant letter of the alphabet. This has directly led into the month of action starting today....see below. 

Mother Helen Calvert set up and ran a survey of health care professionals. She had 150 responses within about 10 days and analysed and reported the results – an extraordinary contribution.

We have a vibrant Facebook group (please apply to join) and the brand new website, set up by the #MatExp team of mums who are incredibly focused, working long hours - all as volunteers. We are all absolutely determined to keep working together to improve maternity experience for women everywhere. In the month of June we are calling for ACTION, starting TODAY on 1st June, and we have lots planned-including Sheena hosting this series of informative blog posts...

Come and join us!

Gill Phillips and Florence Wilcock