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Improving perinatal care in Milton Keynes through lived experience


14 November 2017

Improving perinatal care in Milton Keynes through lived experience

A former patient, who has worked with CNWL to help improve perinatal mental health care in Milton Keynes, has won an MK People Award.

Joanne McClaren received the award in the Health category last night (Monday, 13 November) during an event at the Civic Offices.

This was for having set up a Facebook group for women with concerns about their mental health pre or postnatal and for being a key part of a group called the Milton Keynes Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative - a range of agencies and women with lived experience working together to improve care.

Jo, who was nominated by a member of her Facebook group, said: "I was extremely surprised that someone had gone out of their way to do this. I didn't realise the effect I'd been having on people."

Three years ago, Jo was referred to mental health services in Milton Keynes. This was before there was a Perinatal Mental Health Service in Milton Keynes. Her experience could have been smoother, so Jo decided to work with the NHS, including CNWL, to ensure no one else would go through that again.

Gloria Aldridge, Perinatal Clinical Nurse Manager at CNWL in Milton Keynes, said: "Jo has raised the profile of Perinatal Mental Health and made it clear that it's ok to talk if you're having problems - she's helped in lowering stigma locally. She's said it's ok to get help and that no-one will judge you.

"She's provided absolutely valuable support to women in Milton Keynes and we've used her experience to think about how we develop a more seamless approach, including the Stepped Care Model of women being referred to the appropriate service to meet their needs with IAPT now having a prioritised perinatal pathway and the formation of a specialist perinatal mental health team. Jo has been the voice of the mother and the baby and has helped us redevelop services.

"Alongside that she felt there was a need for peer support and a social network so she set up her Facebook group, which while we aren't members, we know is a help.

"Despite being this influential, she's still a very humble person. If anyone deserves this award, it's her."

Gloria also recently won a CNWL Excellence in Innovation Award in Mental Health Services for her work in helping improve perinatal care across Milton Keynes.

Jo's Facebook group, called Maternal Mental Health in Milton Keynes has more than 300 active members and is run with three others who all have administration rights. "It's a safe place for women to post how they are feeling. It's more of a community. We aren't there to give advice. We signpost; we say it's okay for feeling that way," said Jo.

Jo still has the occasional bad day but said that thanks to the support of people like Gloria and the team and her work she more often has good days as she knows she is helping others.

The MK People Awards honour the achievements of those community champions who help others in Milton Keynes. For details:

Who to call if you have concerns about your mental health:

You can refer yourself directly by calling Talk for Change on 01908 22 88 30 and choosing Option 4; emailing or downloading a form at

• Speak with your GP, Health Visitor or Midwife.

• Call CNWL's Single Point of Access number 0800 0234 650 out of hours - (5pm-9am, Monday to Friday; and Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays)

• PANDAS - a support service for families suffering prenatal/antenatal and postnatal illnesses - 0843 2898401 9am to 8pm seven days a week

• Samaritans - 116 123.

• If you already use our services, during office hours your first point of contact should be the person that you usually see (your care coordinator, or named lead professional).

For more details:

Contact Senior Communications Officer Jeremy Dunning on 0203 214 5756 or

The first picture shows Jo with husband Ben at their wedding with son William. The second shows Jo with Gloria Aldridge (left) and Perinatal Psychological Therapist Emma Cross - also from CNWL.


Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Stephenson House, 75 Hampstead Road, London NW1 2PL
Tel: 020 3214 5756 e-mail: