North London Partners in health and care

Mothers recruited to document and research maternity services users' experiences

Fifteen women from North Central London (NCL) put their experiences of local maternity services to great use in order to help shape service improvements as part of the Better Births Programme.

NCL’s Maternity programme (covering Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington) is an early adopter of Better Births Programme and between 2017 and 2019 it was one of the first areas to test out this way of working. A key element was to engage directly with women and families to talk about their needs, experiences and expectations and put these findings at the centre of a new and more responsive approach that is co-produced with service users.

Emily Ahmed, former lead for engagement for the North Central London’s Better Births Maternity Transformation project, recruited 15 women as patient and public voice partners to (PPVP) interview maternity services users.

The women and families interviewed as part of the project came from diverse communities and included under-represented groups of women and partners from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds for example, women from Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic speaking communities. During the summer of 2018, the selected peer group underwent training and over five months they interviewed 179 people (including pregnant, new mothers and their families) using participatory appraisal and community action research methods.

The PPVP group was funded and received training and support on how to collect the data and information needed to evaluate services and assess the progress of the programme.  They also received training on reviewing feedback and research and analysing the fieldwork findings.

The end result was set of concrete actions to take forward to improve services and a detailed co-produced report, ‘Better Births: Views from women and their families in North Central London. A participatory action research project’.

The woman and their families who were interviewed were very positive about the use of their peers from the PPVP group. They said the approach made them feel safe and comfortable and able to talk openly and honestly about positives and negatives from their experience of using maternity services across NCL.

The programme is great example of how users/residents can work together to improve services and one the North London Partners (NLP) will replicate.

Online Residents Engagement Hub

NLP is currently developing an Online Residents Engagement Hub for residents to offer feedback and share their experiences.  If you are planning on involving residents in reviewing services and would like to get involved in the development of the hub contact Iuliana Dinu, Patient and Public Engagement Manager email

If you would like more information about the Birth Births Programme or a copy of the report ‘Better Births: Views from women and their families in North Central London. A participatory action research project’ contact Logan Van Lessen, Clinical Lead NCL Better Births (Community Hubs) email