Dignity in Childbirth
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Welcome to new CEO, Amy Gibbs

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of our new Chief Executive, Amy Gibbs, who has joined Birthrights today.
Amy is a health and human rights campaigner and senior leader with over 12 years experience in national charities, local government and Parliament. Throughout her career she has led teams and organisations to secure legal, policy and practice change for vulnerable adults and children denied their rights by services and society. Amy was a Director of child rights organisations Unicef UK and The Children’s Society, and earlier spent 5 years leading policy and campaigns on social rights and healthcare at mental health charity Mind.
Amy served for 8 years as an elected Councillor for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, including two years as Cabinet Member for Health & Adults Services and Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Board, which oversaw integrated services including maternity care transformation. She has held various non-Executive positions including Vice-Chair of East End Citizens Advice Bureau and Governor of East London Mental Health Foundation Trust. Amy has an MSc in European Public Policy and MA in English Literature and German. When not working for Birthrights, she is kept on her toes by her lively toddler!
Amy says “I’m delighted and honoured to join Birthrights as Chief Executive. Protecting women’s rights and dignity in childbirth is an issue very close to my heart and I look forward to working with the staff team, trustees, partners and funders to deliver this ambition for even more women.”
Maternal Request Caesarean Campaign

Our Maternal Request Caesarean report was published in August highlighting the results of our Freedom of Information campaign to find out how far NHS Trusts are complying with relevant NICE guidelines. NICE guideline  CG132 states that: ‘For women requesting a caesarean section, if after discussion and offer of support… a vaginal birth is still not an acceptable option (Trusts should) offer a planned caesarean section.’ But pregnant women in some areas are simply told to go elsewhere. Statistics show that 15% of Trusts have policies or processes that explicitly do not support maternal request caesarean, while 47% of Trusts have policies or processes that are problematic or inconsistent. Only 26% of Trusts offer caesareans in line with NICE best-practice guidance. 

Our Chief Executive Rebecca Schiller appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show, and a number of other media channels to discuss the findings, and the report made the front page of The Times as well as significant coverage elsewhere in the press and on social media. We have been really pleased to hear that a number of Trusts are now in the process of revising their policy as a result of our campaign. We are in the process of following up on the recommendations in the report and continue to explore all avenues, including legal ones, for creating change. Our solicitors wrote to Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, whose policy we have received the most complaints about, requesting a response by the 10th August but at the time of this newsletter, no reply has been received.


Conversations on Consent

On 28th November, our Programmes Director, Maria Booker will be attending NHS Resolution's Conversations on consent conference in Ipswich to present, with Dr Matthew Jolly from NHSE, progress to date on the intrapartum consent tool which emerged out of work on implementing Montgomery v Lanarkshire.

Nadine Montgomery herself will be there to discuss her personal experience of her landmark claim.  Further stakeholder testing of the intrapartum tool is planned for the New Year. 

Rights issues experienced by women facing severe and multiple disadvantage 
We and Birth Companions are hugely grateful to the women and midwives who have shared their experiences and expertise with us so far as part of our research into the rights-issues experienced by women who are facing severe and multiple disadvantage during the perinatal period. 
We are now seeking health visitors, social workers, family nurses, support workers and other related professionals to take part, and share their experiences and the challenges they encounter in supporting women in London who are facing severe and multiple disadvantage.  We are seeking participants who have worked with, or supported women during the perinatal period in the last two to three years.  We will be holding a focus group on the afternoon of 29th November at a Central/North London location with public transport links.  It will take no more than two hours in total, we will pay your transport costs and can offer a £10 shopping voucher as a thank you.  Further information is available on our information sheet, on our website and by contacting Rebecca Brione at
In addition, we are continuing to recruit women who have had a baby in the last 2 – 3 years in London whilst facing severe and multiple disadvantage to take part in interviews about their experiences of maternity care. Interviews will take place in an agreed safe and comfortable location, with travel and childcare costs covered.  All participants will be offered a £10 thank you. All information will be kept confidential unless anything discussed gives rise to safeguarding concerns. If you or a woman you know might consider taking part in an interview, please have a look at our letter and information leaflet and contact Rebecca Brione.
In November we will also be holding a fifth focus group with Birth Companions’ specialist volunteer doulas who support women with multiple and complex needs in the community. 

Unconsented vaginal examinations

The Faculty of Law at Oxford University will be hosting a seminar in February to consider the issue of unconsented vaginal examinations during childbirth, given the lack of academic literature and case law on this subject.

Birthrights will be presenting at the seminar and women who have contacted Birthrights following unconsented vaginal examinations will also be taking part. Papers resulting from the seminar will be published as a collected edition which will hopefully raise awareness of how common this experience is and the incredibly traumatic impact that this can have on women.

Welcome Reilly Willis

​Reilly Willis joined us last month as our Legal Officer. 

Reilly is an international human rights lawyer with a specialisation in women’s rights and gender equality.  She has worked for the WHO in Geneva, the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, the ASTRA network in Warsaw, and Options Consultancy Services in London.  Reilly holds a JD from New York University School of Law, an MPH from Columbia University, and is in the final stages of her PhD at the University of East Anglia. 
Reilly manages our advice line service, and is responsible for ensuring our resources are up to date and accessible. Reilly also leads on any legal interventions undertaken by our policy and legal hub.

This month we also welcomed John Davis to our Board as our new Treasurer.

You can read more about all of our trustees and staff team here.

Expanding our training team

Thank you to everyone who applied to be a Birthrights Associate Trainer. We were taken aback by both the quantity and quality of responses and have responded to all those that applied ahead of our Associate Trainer Day on the 7th December. We will not be able to accommodate everyone on the 7th and do intend to hold another Associate Trainers day next year so if you missed the deadline don't worry! We are particularly interested to hear from doctors who would like to train for us!

And if you would like to have a chat with our Programmes Director, Maria Booker, about organising some training for your Trust or in your area, please do get in touch at

Birthrights now has a dedicated email address for advice enquiries. If you have any queries about human rights relating to maternity care – please get in touch with us. Our free email advice line is not only for women and their families but also for healthcare professionals.

If you have any other enquiries about training, speaking engagements or anything else then do continue to contact us on

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Birthrights · Union House · 111 New Union Street · Coventry, Warwickshire CV1 2NT · United Kingdom

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