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Women's Voices newsletter April 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of the newsletter and, as always, a particular welcome to new members.

  1. Foreword
  2. Health of younger women
  3. Contraception Priority Setting Partnership
  4. Menopause hub
  5. Maternal Mental Health
  6. NMPA involvement

Foreword from Catherine Nestor

Catherine NestorSpring is starting to show itself which usually means it’s time for new growth, ideas and activities all around. There’s already a lot happening across the college in its links with women who have direct experience of or an interest in obstetrics and gynaecology.

I am delighted to have been recently appointed as a vice chair of the Women’s Network, alongside Mary Twomey. We will be working with Kate Brian, Lead, to further develop the role and influence of this already impactful committee. We had our first Women’s Network meeting of the year in March and we were all full of ideas for moving forward, as we discussed a refreshed strategy for our work and the RCOG’s public engagement overall. We particularly want to focus on reaching more women so that there is a wider range of viewpoints coming through the Women’s Voices Involvement Panel.

Last year we used the results of the Women’s Network survey on older women’s health to develop a hub of information for the menopausal and post-menopausal phase of life. It was very satisfying to see this launched on the RCOG website in February. Now the Network has turned its attention to girls and young women and we have just started to explore how best to garner their views and provide them with useful information.

I was pleased to attend the College’s International Women’s Day conference on abortion care on 3 March. While abortion remains an emotive subject, hearing the various speakers talk about issues around service provision and the availability of specialists, highlighted for me the need to maintain high quality accessible and equitable care for women when abortion is necessary.

As the year moves on, we look forward to continued Women's Network and Women’s Voices involvement to build stronger relationships with the RCOG and with external organisations to help us steer the college’s direction on patient care.

Catherine Nestor, Vice Chair, RCOG Women’s Network


Health of Younger Women

Health of younger women workshopIn February the College ran a workshop with 11 women aged 16-25 to find out what they need to know about women’s health. It was a great session with participants sharing their understanding of fertility, sexual and reproductive health; what they feel they know, don't know and need to know. The workshop was a great collaboration between the RCOG Women's Network and Cardiff University. The College is keen to ensure that we are meeting the needs of younger women so we are reviewing our resources with this in mind. There will be more opportunities to get involved in the near future.

Women’s Network member Maya Lane who attended the event says:

“It was great to listen to some of the discussions. It is worrying that there is such a lack of reliable, trusted information for younger women about issues such as periods, contraception and sexual health. I am looking forward to exploring what the Women’s Network can do to develop further work in this area and to think about what the College might be able to do in addressing some of the information needs identified. It was great to have so many motivated, enthusiastic women involved!”


The Contraception Priority Setting Partnership

Are you interested in working with women and healthcare professionals to prioritise the ‘Top 10’ unanswered research priorities for contraceptive care?

The Contraception Priority Setting Partnership is running a full day workshop for patients and healthcare professionals to prioritise the ‘Top 10’ unanswered research priorities for contraceptive care.

The Partnership is looking for patients to participate on the day. Below are full details of the workshop:

Date: 21st April 2017

Time: 9:30am – 4.00pm (Refreshments on arrival and sandwich lunch provided)

Address: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Place, London, NW1 4RG

A brief overview of the day

A total of 24 people will be participating on the day, 12 patients who have used/are using/are thinking about using contraception and 12 healthcare professionals involved in the delivery of contraceptive care.

There will be an introduction at the start of the day to explain how the workshop will run, and to point out the facilitators and organisers.

You will then work in small groups to discuss 25 research questions relating to contraceptive care.

With help from one of the facilitators, you will decide together on the order of importance of the questions.

The 25 questions will be printed on cards, and the facilitator will lay them out on a table to help everyone put them into an order, from most important to least important.

The format of the workshop has been developed by an organisation called the James Lind Alliance. It has been used to set research priorities in many areas of healthcare, you can read more about what to expect on the day in the JLA handbook.

Travel expenses will be reimbursed. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Hayley Atkin at


Menopause hub

Menopause hubThe RCOG's new information hub on menopause and women's health in later life is now online. The hub is designed to link women to reliable information on a range of topics identified as being most important to you at this stage of life. You may remember the public survey of over 2500 women back in 2015. This work has been led by the Women's Network (with the involvement of Women's Voices) and in collaboration with doctors and other women's health organisations.

The hub will grow and evolve as we receive feedback on how it works for those who are using it. Over the coming months it will be promoted in various ways - to women directly, as well as to doctors so they can signpost women to it.

Thanks to all who have been involved in this important piece of work which will hopefully allow many women to feel better informed about their health and choices they have.


Maternal Mental Health

maternal mental healthThe College has published a new report called Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices. Many of you will have followed this work from when the public survey was open last year. The survey was co-designed by the College, the Women’s Network and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. Over 2300 women who had given birth in the last five years shared their experience.

The report pulls together this insight, exploring women’s experiences of perinatal mental health problems, engagement with healthcare professionals and the quality of care they received.

The results present a stark picture of how the NHS is currently letting some of the most vulnerable women in society down. Women are experiencing low rates of referral, long waits, regional variation of care, a lack of continuity of care, misunderstanding and stigma. The mental health of women’s partners is also often neglected by healthcare professionals and services.

The report provides key recommendations for healthcare professionals, managers, providers, commissioners, policy makers and politicians in order to improve services as a matter of urgency.


National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA) involvement

NMPA logoThe NMPA, which is being led by the RCOG, will evaluate the quality of care received by women and newborns cared for by hospital services across England, Wales and Scotland.

The overarching aim of the NMPA is to improve the quality of services and the outcomes achieved for mothers and babies cared for by hospital maternity services in England, Scotland and Wales.

It will do this by providing timely, high quality data that compares the care provided and outcomes achieved by providers of maternity care across a range of measures. We believe that this is best achieved by the integral involvement of women and their families. In order to facilitate this involvement we have established an NMPA Women and Families Involvement Group.

We recently held open recruitment for members for this group and have successfully recruited ten women, with diverse experiences and backgrounds from a range of locations. They, together with seven charities (Best Beginnings, TAMBA, AVMA, APEC, Birthrights, Tommy’s and Birth Trauma Association) have been invited to an initial workshop to introduce them to the Audit, and to come up with some aims and objectives for the audit from a lay perspective. This group will then continue to meet and communicate virtually, to ensure that the views and experiences of women and their families are central to decision making processes. We’ll share some more news from the group in the next newsletter.

For more information about the NMPA please visit their website


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