Maternity Service Liaison Committees (MSLCs) are a forum for maternity service users, providers and commissioners of maternity services to come together to design services that meet the needs of local women, parents and families.
In the last few years, the NHS in England has been extensively modernised, including structural changes to the organisations providing and commissioning care on behalf of the local population. Throughout these policy changes, there has been a commitment to involving the views of users of the service in monitoring and developing the quality of the services provided. MSLCs are the established model for achieving this.
The government document, Maternity Matters: choice and continuity of care in a safe service states that:
‘Using the Maternity Services Liaison Committees (MSLC) or similar fora* to agree on a common set of objectives for maternity services, set the service specification for maternity services and to be the local voice in the production of the PCT prospectus.'
*If such a forum does not exist, then this should be established
MSLCs include commissioners, providers and representatives of service users - sometimes women or men who have had a baby or become a parent recently, sometimes experienced maternity services user advocates.
The Department of Health supports the establishment of MSLCs and expects that PCTs will facilitate their operation locally.
MSLCs are locally-based groups of all those involved in planning, providing and receiving maternity care, including users, and therefore, are well placed to advise on developments in local maternity services and monitor progress towards agreed standards. In England, MSLCs normally report to the Primary Care Trust (PCT) leading on maternity commissioning and should have strong links with other bodies, including care networks, labour ward forums and the local authority.
National guidelines for maternity services liaison committees (MSLCs) were published in February 2006 to inform healthcare managers, commissioners, practitioners and others on ways in which local maternity services liaison committees can work effectively and contribute to improving maternity services.
The importance of involving users in the design of maternity services is emphasised in a number of key policy documents.
This site was initially established through funding from the Department of Health (DH). From March 2010, DH asked the Child and Maternal Health Observatory (ChiMat) to host the website. ChiMat have transferred the site and are developing a plan to continue its development and use.