Protecting human rights in childbirth

Registered Charity Number 1151152

Take action

Feedback and Complaints

Our factsheet on making a complaint explains the steps you can take if you are unhappy about the maternity care you are personally receiving or did receive. It includes advice about taking your complaint to the Ombudsman, referring a member of staff to a regulator, and about taking legal action.

Local and National Advocacy

If you want to do more to bring about change in maternity services more generally here are some ideas to consider:

Join your local Maternity Voices Partnership

Maternity Voices Partnerships bring together service users, maternity professionals,  commissioners, and others with the aim of improving local maternity services.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland these bodies are called Maternity Service Liaison Committees (MSLCs).

Your local Healthwatch will also gather themes and feedback about local health services. Some are more active on maternity issues than others.  You can find more information on the Healthwatch website. Healthwatch offer a short, online form to complete, to offer feedback on your experiences of NHS and Social Services care.

Campaigning tools

Write to your local Trust/Board or Clinical Commissioning Group

If there is a particular issue you feel strongly about you could write to the Chief Executive and/or the Director/Head of Midwifery of your local Trust or Board (details should be found on the Trust/Board website or alternatively you can call the Trust/Board).

In England, health services are commissioned by local Clinical Commissioning Groups led by GPs so it can be worth contacting the CCG or copying them into your letter as well. The NHS website holds more information and a postcode finder for finding out which is your local CCG.

Write to your Member of Parliament, Member of Scottish Parliament or Assembly Member

You can also write to your Member of Parliament or Assembly Member.

You should be clear about what action you want your MP, MSP or AM to take. They could raise the issue with your local Trust or Board, or they could raise the issue with the relevant Government Minister by writing directly to them, or by asking a Parliamentary question.

You may also want to send your email to one or more of the following people who hold senior positions in the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Departments of Health:

If you live in England:

If you live in Scotland:

If you live in Wales:

If you live in Northern Ireland

Start a petition

Start a petition using one of these platforms:

Make a freedom of information request

You have the right to ask to see recorded information held by certain public authorities.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA) give you the right to see information. You can request information from some public authorities, such as government departments and all parts of the NHS including hospitals, Trusts and GP surgeries.

If you cannot make your request in writing because of a disability, contact the particular public authority or NHS Trust. They should help you to make the request another way – for example over the phone.

You can also check the relevant NHS Trust’s website for responses to previous FOI requests. This is sometimes known as a ‘disclosure log’. You can also email or phone the organisation to ask if they’ve already published the information or responded to an FOI request.

What to include

In your FOI request, you should give:

  • your name
  • a contact postal or email address
  • a detailed description of the information you want – for example, you might want all information held on a subject, or just a summary

You can ask for information in a particular format, such as:

  • paper or electronic copies of information
  • audio format
  • large print


By donating to Birthrights you are enabling us to fulfil our promise to safeguard women and birthing people’s rights. Your donation could help us to:

  • provide free advice to pregnant women and birthing people
  • deliver valuable training and support to healthcare professionals
  • launch a nationwide campaign to promote respect for dignity in childbirth
  • support vulnerable women and birthing people to ensure equal access to respectful maternity care

Birthrights is the UK charity that champions respectful maternity care by protecting human rights. We provide advice and legal information to women and birthing people, train healthcare professionals to deliver rights-respecting care and campaign to change maternity policy and systems.

You can make a one off donation to Birthrights, or set up a regular direct debit here: https://birthrights.org.uk/support-us/donate-or-fundraise/