'Glaring' racial health inequalities laid bare as black women are 4 TIMES more likely to die in childbirth | The Sun

MPS have called out "appalling" racial disparities in a new report on maternal health in Britain.

The damning report highlights how black women are almost four times more likely to die from childbirth than white women.

Maternal deaths in the UK's most deprived areas are also on the rise.

Mums in these worst off areas are 2.5 times more likely to die as a result of labour than those in the most privileged spots.

The report from the Women and Equalities Committee has called the disparities “glaring”.

 In the report, MPs flagged that understaffed and underfunded maternity units are part of the problem, making continuity of care difficult. As is a lack of data on ethnicity, with black women being frequently underrepresented in research.

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Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, said: “One of our biggest concerns is staffing shortages in maternity care.

"We need to see a sustained uplift in funding to bolster a workforce that has been stretched to its limits.

"We are also afraid the Government and NHS have not fully grasped that racism has played a  key part in the complex reasons underlying the disparities, and that eradicating it is part of the solution. 

“It is unacceptable that we consistently hear poor quality data on ethnicity is hindering efforts to address inequality.

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"The onus is on authorities to improve data collection practices.

"We cannot let these women remain invisible to the systems supposed to serve them."

The report particularly criticised the Government’s Maternity Disparities Taskforce, which was specifically set up to handle the maternal healthcare crisis, for not meeting regularly enough – it has only met three times since being launched in February 2022.

NHS leaders and the Government were blasted for having “underestimated” the role of racism in disparities and for not better representing black women. 

The report also said that treatment received by far too many black women “falls short of acceptable standards”.

MP Nokes, said: “NHS births are among the safest in the world and yet we continue to see appalling disparities in maternal deaths. 

“It is shocking that black women are almost four times more likely to die from childbirth than white women.

“Thanks to the tireless work of campaigners more attention has been paid to maternal health disparities in recent years, but improvements are not happening quickly enough.”

She has called on the Government to set a national target for eradicating inequalities. 

MP Nokes added: “It is frankly shameful that we have known about these disparities for at least 20 years. It cannot take another twenty to resolve.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are absolutely clear that we must ensure maternity care is of the same high standard, regardless of race.

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“We’ve invested £165 million since 2021 to grow the maternity workforce and are promoting careers in midwifery with an extra 3,650 training places per year, while every local NHS maternity system has a plan in place to tackle disparities on a local level.

“The Maternity Disparities Taskforce – a collective of mothers, clinicians and key organisations – is being chaired today by Minister Maria Caulfield to focus on how we can eradicate disparities and improve maternity outcomes for all mothers.”

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