Listening to women

Listening to women and families with compassion which supports safer care

Listening to women and their families, understanding, and then acting helps to provide compassionate care and improves maternity outcomes and experiences. It also improves safety and helps to address health inequalities.

Donna Ockenden’s report on Shrewsbury and Telford described where families raised concerns:

… but were brushed aside, ignored and not listened to.

Dr Bill Kirkup’s report on East Kent states that those who provided care:

… failed to listen to the families involved, and acted in ways which made the experience of families unacceptably and distressingly poor.

graphic showing different types of service users and their involvement in our work

Personalised care

Personalised care means women have choice and control over how their care is planned and delivered. It is based on evidence, what matters to them, and their individual risk factors and needs. While many women and babies experience excellent personalised care, it is clear from the independent reports that not all do.

We know that most mothers and babies in the North East and North Cumbria have a healthy pregnancy and birth. However, mothers and babies from more deprived backgrounds and from some ethnic minorities are more likely to be unwell and although rare, to experience serious complications during pregnancy and birth.

Our maternity and neonatal services need to respond to each person’s unique health and social situation. This support needs to increase as health inequalities increase so that we provide care that is safe and personal for all.

We co-produce our work with the ten Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVP), three service user reps and patient and public voice representatives. We work as an equal partnership to develop services and identify what needs to be improved.



  • Personalised care: Women experience informed choice, an ongoing dialogue, personalised planning, and specialist care when needed.
  • Improve equity for mothers and babies: Addressing inequalities in experience and outcomes through listening to women from diverse backgrounds and targeted local action.
  • Work together with service users to improve care: service users are involved in planning and designing services and in quality governance through Maternity and Neonatal Voice Partnerships.


Description of goal Where are we now? What are we aiming for? When will we get there?
Improve the number of women accessing personalised care and support plans. 100% of women can access a personalised care and support plan. However, we need to audit take up to establish a baseline. 100% of women have access to a personalised care and support plan and use it through personal choice. 31 March 2025
To continue with the implementation of the NENC LMNS Equity and Equality Action Plan 2022-2027  Action plan has been developed. To continue with the delivery of the action plan through a steering group. 31 March 2024
Continue to improve engagement with women and families, particularly those who find it difficult to access our services. 10 Maternity Voice Partnership, 3 Service User Voices Reps and Patient Public Voice Reps on all LMNS Sub Groups and Clinical Expert Groups. Develop an engagement strategy building on existing work. 31 March 2025


  • Commission perinatal pelvic health services.
  • Commission community perinatal mental health services including maternal mental health services.
  • Commission a Maternal Medicine Network that is responsible for ensuring that all with significant medical problems will receive timely. specialist care and advice before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • Implement Equity and Equality Action Plan.
  • Commission and fund MVPs, to cover each trust, reflecting the diversity of the local population.
  • Remunerate and support the MVP lead, and ensure that an annual, fully funded workplan is agreed and signed off by the MVP and the ICB.
  • Ensure service user voice representatives are members of the LMNS Board.