The Government has launched a new taskforce that will aim to tackle disparities in maternity care experienced by women from ethnic minority groups and those living in deprived areas.
According to figures cited by the Department of Health and Social Care, there is an almost two-fold difference in mortality rates between women from Asian ethnic groups and white women.
Black women are also 40% more likely to experience a miscarriage than white women, these figures show.
The new Maternity Disparities Taskforce will work to identify how the Government can improve care to further reduce the number of stillbirths and maternal deaths within ethnic minority groups.
The taskforce will also work to tackle disparities in maternity care for people living in deprived areas.
The Department of Health and Social Care cites Birmingham as one area where there is a correlation between deprivation and a high rate of neonatal mortality.
According to the Government’s data, Birmingham is one of the most deprived areas of the country and has the highest rates of neonatal mortality and stillbirths at 11.4 per 1,000. The Midlands city also has a high number of low birth weight of all babies (9.7% in 2018) and a high prematurity rate.
‘For too long disparities have persisted which mean women living in deprived areas or from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to get the care they need, and worse, lose their child. We must do better to understand and address the causes of this,’ said the minister for women’s health, Maria Caulfield.
‘The Maternity Disparities Taskforce will help level-up maternity care across the country, bringing together a wide range of experts to deliver real and ambitious change so we can improve care for all women, and I will be monitoring progress closely.’
The taskforce will consider ways to improve personalised care and support plans for mothers as well as increasing access to maternity care for all women.
Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer for England, said: ‘The NHS’ ambition is to be the safest place in the world to be pregnant, give birth and transition into parenthood all women who use our maternity services should receive the best care possible, which is why the NHS is committed to reducing health inequalities and our Equity & Equality guidance sets out how the NHS will do this.
‘We welcome the extra impetus and support that the new taskforce will provide in tackling these important issues and look forward to participating in it.’