Maternity Engagement

Perinatal experiences, both positive and negative, can affect mental health and wellbeing. Long-term effects can often impact on other services such as general practice (GP) or community mental health services beyond scope of engagement with maternity services.

An effective model for engaging maternity and neonatal service users has potential to empower parents to informally seek and receive support and to feel heard, and to mitigate against long-term impacts on maternity, GP, mental health or other services.

Scottish Maternity Engagement (SME) Project 


The National Maternity Network team continue to gather feedback and approvals on the SME Framework and Toolkit from Scottish Government and strategic partners through network governance processes. While navigating these processes, the Scottish Perinatal Network are providing support to maternity services on their engagement journeys by hosting workshops on key aspects of the SME Framework;

The Scottish Maternity Engagement Framework and Implementation Toolkit will be published here when approvals are granted.



A detailed business case was submitted to the Scottish Government for consideration in April 2023. Recommendations were accepted and the Scottish Government invested in ongoing National Maternity Network project management resource until 31 March 2024 to support implementation.  An analysis report of findings from the Maternity Service Engagement Survey with professionals and service users (carried out in 2022) was included in the business case and used to draft the Scottish Maternity Engagement (SME) Framework and Toolkit

2023-09-28 SME Project – Maternity Service Engagement Survey Analysis Report

The National Maternity Network held workshops in October 2023 to gather Board feedback on the SME Framework and Toolkit. Comments were incorporated and a further draft of the SME Framework was shared with Scottish Government in December 2023.



The Scottish Government invested in dedicated project management resource through the National Maternity Network to:
• Undertake a community engagement exercise to explore what women and families want and need from a national engagement model, then include their views in its development and implementation. Complementary face to face and digital options were considered, as were technical developments and changes in views and preferences following the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Develop a detailed specification for a sustainable national (‘Once for Scotland’) framework for maternity engagement that recommends mechanisms, resources and minimum standards for NHS Boards to implement. The new framework would build on existing best practice, improve national consistency and meet service user needs. It would dovetail and interface with the tailored engagement approaches of strategic partners and local and national Community Engagement teams.
• Explore national potential to address inequalities through third sector collaboration.



The Scottish Government commissioned the newly established National Maternity Network to build on the findings of the Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) 2020 review and produce an options appraisal with recommendations for a national maternity engagement framework in Scotland. The appraisal identified near-universal appetite amongst maternity professionals to get better at engaging with service users, but limited operational guidance about how to do it. Maternity engagement activities had long lacked national and strategic governance, infrastructure and coordination. The resulting variation in local approaches and overdependence on altruism and volunteers, with services doing the best they could with what they had, was also limiting the extent to which maternity service users and providers could have strategic influence.

2021-09-10 SPN Maternity Engagement Scotland Options Appraisal



The Scottish Government commissioned Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) to review the effectiveness of the Maternity Service Liaison Committee (MSLC) model and the national position around implementation. The situation had deteriorated since the 2007 review. Many Boards had been unable to sustain the MSLC model. While some alternatives had been adopted, the opportunities women and families had to engage with their maternity services varied widely, depending on where in Scotland they lived. The review identified “the way forward for maternity services is to ensure that all engagement processes take on board the voices of women in a proactive and inclusive way.”

2020-10-01 HIS Maternity Service Engagement Report 


2007 Evaluation of the Maternity Service Liaison Committee (MSLC) approach identified persistent implementation and sustainability challenges.

2004 The Scottish Government mandated that all NHS boards in Scotland should have a Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MSLC).