The first 'listening event' held by the national Maternity Review team.

I was delighted to be invited to 'Birth Tank', the first 'listening event' of the new national maternity review. I wore my #MatExp necklace with pride and took a bleary eyed selfie on the early morning train to London!

I wondered what 'they' would make of our rather maverick 'JFDI' #MatExp campaign and in particular hoped we would get the chance to tell people about it...

As always I was looking forward to seeing #FabObs Flo (Florence Wilcock), my #MatExp 'partner in crime'.

The last time I saw Flo, I ended up wearing some strange clothes! You will have to see the #Steller stories about #KHFTWhoseShoes to understand that one!

Our 'very small Whose Shoes? #MatExp pilot'… ... has become quite big!

We have crowdsourced scenarios from many differences perspectives and poems to make people think differently

We have worked in partnership with the London Strategic Clinical Network and NHS England to run inclusive Whose Shoes? workshops. We are firing up energy and local ownership and achieving positive change in maternity care and support.

People make pledges about what they will actually DO to make a difference!

Earlier this month Saint Thomas's hospital reported that 100% of participants would recommend the workshop and everyone said it would impact their practice.

We create a genuinely inclusive environment. I absolutely love this poster! πŸ’œ

We have had fantastic support throughout the project from 'can do Kath' - 🌟Kath Evans🌟, Patient Experience lead for maternity at NHS England.πŸ‘πŸΌ

But these things don't just happen. It has taken a lot of hard work to create the conditions for coproduction to thrive. We've crowdsourced scenarios that really make people think.

Seeing the gardener and the beautiful gardens on the Embankment on my way to the workshop, I allowed my mind to wander...

Women can get such confusing advice. How can they know what is the best path to take?

Whose Shoes? gets people to look at issues from different perspectives so that solutions are realistic.

We need to make sure that everyone is included. And even the quietest voices are heard.

Sometimes we need to knock things down and start again...

But very often small improvements can make a big difference.

We do a lot of work around barriers -

... and find ways to stack them up neatly out of the way!

I saw an awful lot of things that 'aren't allowed' on my way to the 'Birth Tank'. 'Not allowed' has been a major theme of #MatExp.

It can be so disappointing! πŸ˜‚

#MatExp is not a pressure group. We don't chain ourselves to railings waiting for other people to do things. We get on and do things ourselves! Mums across the country have been coming forward to lead real change.

In #MatExp we are challenging things that are not allowed. People make up so many rules but many are for the benefit of the service, not the women and families they serve. People like the wonderful Jenny Clarke are good at questioning those rules... πŸ˜‰

It is important to look below the surface and see how, for example, a medical model of care affects women and their birth choices. The 'birth tank' analogy seemed perfect. 🐠🐟🐠🐟

I was nearly there... about to dive into the Birth Tank 🐟🐠🐟🐠

Luckily I met Tracey Cooper, a Twitter friend, who saved me from my diversion and pointed me in the right direction for the actual event!

It was all very organised. I guessed I wouldn't be 'allowed' to sit with Flo! πŸ‹πŸŒŸπŸ‹

The setting was very austere

I thought of my pal Alison Cameron as I looked round for inspiration to find a hint of the 'School for Health Care Radicals... After all, I am a 'certificated' NHS IQ SHCR Radical now - did you know that? πŸ˜‰

Flo arrived - wearing her #MatExp necklace of course - and the 'tweet ups' began. Flo and Tracey met like long lost friends - their first ever meeting! This is how Twitter works and the wonderful relationships we are building through #MatExp

Leigh Kendall has come forward as a very special leader in our campaign

Leigh's beautiful star necklace is in memory of her wonderful little boy Hugo who sadly was born too early and lived for just 35 days. #HugosLegacy is strong and important

Leigh is our #MatExp 'language champion' and keeps us all on our toes

This was probably my 15 minutes of fame. A chance to tell Simon Stevens, NHS CEO about #MatExp! Hopefully not a failure!

We have had a lot of fun while making some very serious points. Here is the fabulous Jenny Clarke, now famous for her 'Skin to Skin' campaign!

A small sample of the fab people and wide variety of roles involved in #MatExp. Now over 150 MILLION Twitter impressions

This is a photo from a recent #MatExp conference. I was sorry the 'whole gang' couldn't be with us in London!

And especially my friend Sheena. Who really makes things happen 🌟

Huge thanks to Ken Howard for designing our fab #MatExp logo!

A powerful start to Birth Tank - Baroness Cumberlege, sharing her personal birth stories

Most of the Maternity Review team were in the room and stood up to be counted!

They were keen to gather best practice from all over the country. I was delighted to tell them about the improvements in postnatal care introduced at my local hospital in Coventry

There were lots of passionate discussions

Inevitably the key topics from the Birth Tank event were the key topics from our Whose Shoes? workshops. It was great to display some of the wonderful graphic recording that Anna Geyer has done,

Flo's necklace sparkled bright ... and so did her ideas!

We weren't sure if we were 'allowed' to have a space to showcase Whose Shoes. But lots of people had asked to see it and we're getting better at JFDI. πŸ˜‰

We were delighted that Baroness Cumberlege and other members of the Review Team showed a real interest in #MatExp. They seem keen to use Whose Shoes? as part of the forthcoming Listening events and we see exciting possibilities here.

Flo talking to a fellow obstetrician 🌟

I had been so looking forward to meeting Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives, who has been massively supportive on Twitter and with a great sense of fun. It felt like meeting an old friend. πŸŒŸπŸ’œ

The Whose Shoes? keyrings are always popular and provide a lasting memento. I was delighted to find one to match Leigh's handbag!

It was nice to meet David Richmond, President of the RCOG, briefly - he had a very encouraging meeting with Flo a short time ago

The day flew by and soon the key points from the discussions were being summarised

It will be really interesting to see what the next steps are. We know from our #MatExp work that it is relatively easy to gather lots of action points but the important thing is to find people to own them and make them happen!πŸ’₯

Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. But the real work is just beginning - or in the case of #MatExp continuing with a vengeance!

It felt as if everyone had had a good day

Leigh and I had a good time in Covent Garden. Fun is a big part of our #MatExp community. Meanwhile Flo was #ObsOnCall and had important work to do. We are all very proud of her. 😎

Read Leigh Kendall's excellent blog for a summary and analysis of the issues discussed at the Birth Tank

We are looking forward to holding a #MatExp bazaar at NHS Expo. With thanks to Helen Bevan and the SHCR team for this fab analogy!


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