Closed petition Improve Maternal Mortality Rates and Health Care for Black Women in the U.K.
Black Women in the U.K. are 5 times more likely to die during pregnancy and after childbirth compared to White Women (MBRRACE, 2019). We need more research done into why this is happening and recommendations to improve health care for Black Women as urgent action is needed to address this disparity.
The Government must commit to funding the changes necessary to eradicate these statistics and improve maternal health care outcomes for Black Women.
Between 2015-2017 the chance of death for Black Women was 38 out of 100,000 however it was 7 out of 100,000 for White Women according to the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity.
An urgent explanation and tangible action needs to be done by the Government to stop this number increasing and putting Black Women’s lives in danger.
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
Parliament debated this topic
This topic was debated on 19 April 2021
This response was given on 25 June 2020
The Government is funding a NIHR Policy Research Unit in Maternal and Neonatal Health and Care study into factors associated with the higher risk of maternal death for Black and South Asian women.
Read the response in full
Analysis of maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths, undertaken by MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) at the University of Oxford, shows that poor outcomes are much higher for mothers and babies from Black/Black British and Asian/Asian British ethnic groups and women living in the most deprived areas of the country.
The NHS Long-Term Plan
The NHS Long-Term Plan (LTP) takes a concerted and systematic approach to reducing health inequalities and addressing unwarranted variation in care. Work to improve equity in health outcomes for mothers and their babies is led by Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE, Chief Midwifery Officer for England. The work aims to understand why mortality rates are higher, consider evidence about what will reduce mortality rates and take action to improve equity in outcomes for mothers and their babies. This is being carried out as part of the Maternity Transformation Programme (MTP), which is implementing the vision for maternity services set out in ‘Better Births’ and the NHS LTP.
The MTP works through Local Maternity Systems, which bring together service users, commissioners, and provider trusts to design and deliver maternity services. They are well placed to ensure that services meet the needs of diverse local communities. The LTP committed to implementation of an enhanced and targeted continuity of carer model for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women, as well as for women from the most deprived areas. By 2024 75% of women from BAME background will receive continuity of care from their midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period, with additional midwifery time where needed. The evidence shows that continuity of carer models helps reduce pre-term births, hospital admissions, the need for intervention during labour, and to improve women’s experience of care. Continuity of carer can significantly improve outcomes for women and their babies from ethnic minorities and those living in deprived areas
Local Maternity Systems will receive funding and support to implement targeted and enhanced continuity of carer from 2021. In the meantime, Local Maternity Systems are rolling out a standard continuity of carer model and the NHS Planning Guidance 2019/20 stated that that they should use all reasonable endeavours to prioritise women who face the poorest outcomes, which includes BAME women.
The MTP is promoting greater service user participation in the design and delivery of maternity services through Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVPs), and is making particular efforts to ensure diverse voices are heard. National Maternity Voices, funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement, are providing additional support for BAME parent representatives.
Responding to the Coronavirus pandemic
DHSC is funding studies through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – funded Policy Research Unit in Maternal and Neonatal Health and Care, at the University of Oxford, to identify the factors associated with the higher risk of maternal death, and more recently to provide data on the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on BAME pregnant women.
The UK Obstetric Surveillance System collects information about all pregnant women admitted to hospital who are confirmed to have the virus infection including the influence of demographic characteristics on outcomes for mother and infant. This research group published a paper in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on 8 June 2020, Characteristics and outcomes of pregnant women admitted to hospital with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in UK: national population-based cohort study, which states that 56% pregnant women admitted to hospital with SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy were from black or other ethnic minority groups.
The Chief Midwifery Officer has written to Local Maternity Systems, asking them to take specific actions which will minimise the additional risk of COVID-19 for BAME women and their babies. These include local systems increasing support for BAME pregnant women through co-production and implementation of an operational policy for how they will manage the risks of COVID-19 for pregnant women from a BAME background and tailored communications for pregnant BAME women with information about local services and to reassure them that maternity services are available during the pandemic, and encourage them to seek help if they have any concerns.
Department of Health and Social Care
Other parliamentary business
Parliament looks at disproportionate levels of maternal deaths among black women
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (a group of MPs and Members of the House of Lords) heard from the Chief Midwifery Officer about the disproportionate levels of maternal deaths among black women and the protection of black women’s human rights in maternity services.
Watch the session: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/a8f4e521-bca9-48df-90dc-a69c011b9b9b
Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/743/html/
During this session, the Committee also heard from the Equality and Human Rights Commission about their work in protecting human rights for black people. This session forms part of the Committee's inquiry into black people, racism and human rights.
Find out more about the Committee's inquiry into black people, racism and human rights: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/409/black-people-racism-and-human-rights/
Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates: @HumanRightsCtte
###When will this petition be debated?
Petition debates were cancelled in March because of Covid-19 and social distancing measures. The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk) are waiting to be able to schedule this petition for a debate as soon as these debates are resumed in the Autumn. We will let you know as soon as this petition is scheduled for a debate in Parliament.
MPs and Lords recommend that a target is set to end the Black maternal mortality gap
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (a group of MPs and Members of the House of Lords) has published its report: "Black People, Racism and Human Rights". In the report, the Committee makes the following recommendations to the Government about maternal mortality among Black women:
- The death rate for Black women in childbirth is five times higher than for white women. The NHS acknowledge and regret this disparity but have no target to end it. The Government must introduce a target to end the disparity in maternal mortality between Black women and white women.
- The impact of Covid-19 has only served to sharpen pre-existing inequalities for pregnant Black women. The Chief Midwifery Officer has formulated a four-point action plan to better support these women during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is very welcome. These actions must be implemented as a matter of urgency.
Read the report (HTML): https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt5801/jtselect/jtrights/559/55902.htm
Read the report (PDF): https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3376/documents/32359/default/
Find out more about the Committee's report and inquiry: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/93/human-rights-joint-committee/news/121927/human-rights-of-black-people-not-equally-protected-say-committee/
Follow the Committee on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HumanRightsCtte
When will this petition be debated?
The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee petition.parliament.uk) have agreed to schedule a debate on this petition. We'll let you know as soon as the date for the debate is confirmed.
Share your views on ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK
The Government has launched a consultation on ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK, and want to hear from members of the public. There are ten questions, and you can answer any or all of them.
Two of the questions it is asking are:
Which inequalities in health outcomes of people in different racial and ethnic groups are not (wholly) explained by inequalities in underlying determinants of health (for example, education, occupation or income)?
How could inequalities in the health outcomes of people in different ethnic groups be addressed by government, public bodies, the private sector, and communities?
You can find out more about the consultation and contribute here:
The closing date for responses is Monday 30 November 2020.
When will this petition be debated?
The Petitions Committee considered this petition at its first meeting after it reached 100,000 signatures and have agreed it will be scheduled for debate.
Due to the backlog of petitions awaiting debate, and the closure of Westminster Hall between March and October, it has not yet been possible to confirm a date for this debate. As soon as a date for this debate has been confirmed, you’ll get another update.
MPs to question experts on Black maternal deaths
On Tuesday 15 December, a group of MPs called the Health and Social Care Committee will hear from the creators of this petition about their personal experiences and campaign. They will also hear from academics from the MBRRACE-UK project whose 2019 report found that Black women in the UK are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and after childbirth compared to White women.
Watch the session from 9.05am on Tuesday 15 December on Parliament's YouTube channel:
This 'evidence session' is part of the Committee's inquiry into the safety of maternity services in England. They will hear from three panels as follows:
Panel 1, from 9.05am:
· Clo Abe, Petitioner and Co-founder, Five x More campaign
· Tinuke Awe, Petitioner and Co-founder, Five x More campaign
· Professor Marian Knight, Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health, University of Oxford
· Profesor Jenny Kurinczuk, Professor of Perinatal Epidemiology & Director, National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford
Panel 2, from 10.05am:
· Donna Ockenden, Chair, Independent review into Maternity Services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals
Panel 3, from 11.05am:
· Professor Gordon Smith, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cambridge
· Edward Morris, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
· Gill Walton, Chief Executive, Royal College of Midwives
Find out more about the Health and Social Care Committee's inquiry into the safety of maternity services in England: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/472/safety-of-maternity-services-in-england/
What is the Health and Social Care Committee?
The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee looks at and questions how the Government Department for Health and Social Care:
· is run
· spends money
· decides on its policies
It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.
This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
When will this petition be debated?
The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee petition.parliament.uk) have agreed to schedule a debate on this petition in the new year. We'll let you know as soon as the date for the debate is confirmed.
Government launches public survey on a new Women's Health Strategy
The Government has launched a public survey, to help decide on what should be included in its new Women’s Health Strategy for England.
They want to hear from women of all ages and backgrounds about their healthcare experiences. This will help the Government consider possible changes to NHS services.
The survey is open to anyone aged 16 or over.
Share your experiences with the Government here, by 30 May:
Specifically, the Government wants to hear views on the following themes:
- Placing women’s voices at the centre of their health and care
- Improving the quality and accessibility of information and education on women’s health
- Ensuring the health and care system understands and is responsive to women’s health and care needs across the life course
- Maximising women’s health in the workplace
- Ensuring research, evidence and data support improvements in women’s health
- Understanding and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s health
Find out more about the Strategy, and the issues the Government wants to hear about in its survey, here:
Read the full Call for Evidence here:
What is the Women's Health Strategy?
The Government has promised to develop a new Women's Health Strategy. The Strategy will aim to improve the health and wellbeing of women across England, and ensure NHS services in England are meeting women's needs.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, health services are the responsibility of the devolved Governments, so the Strategy will only apply to England.
Who is running the consultation?
The consultation is being run by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Government Department responsible for the NHS and oversight of social care in England.
Find out more about DHSC:
Ministerial statement on the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities
On Tuesday 20 April, the Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch MP gave a statement to the House of Commons on the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.
The statement follows the Government's publication of the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities
Watch the statement here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/b586787a-eb7f-409b-b20e-9cb31d21ddd0?in=13:38:40
Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of the House. Find out more about them here: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/statements/
What did the report say about maternal mortality?
The Commission considered health disparities between and within ethnic groups in the UK, and stated that increased maternal mortality rates seen in ethnic minority groups need to be better understood and explained. The report stated that Commissioners believe that more research into causes in the disparities of maternal mortality should be one of the highest priorities for the new Office for Health Disparities, which they recommended by established to o properly target health disparities in the UK.
Read the report's section on maternal mortality here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities/health#maternal-mortality
What is the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities?
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) has been set up by the Government to review inequality in the UK, focusing on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system. The Commission, which is independent of the Government, will look at outcomes for the whole population.
Find out more about the Commission here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities
MPs report on safety of maternity services in England
On Monday 5 July the Health and Social Care Committee (a group of MPs who scrutinise the work of the Department of Health and Social Care) published a report that looked at safety of maternity services in England.
Read the full report: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6578/documents/71201/default/
The report finds that improvements in maternity services have been too slow, and recommends urgent action to address staffing shortfalls in maternity services. It also notes that whilst England remains a largely safe place to give birth, there has been little progress in addressing inequalities for mothers and babies, with those from minority ethnic and socio-economically deprived backgrounds at greater risk.
Among its recommendations, the Committee has said that the Government should:
- Introduce a target to end disparities in maternal and neonatal outcomes
- Immediately increase the annual budget for maternity services by at least £200-350 million
- Reform litigation to award compensation for maternity cases based on whether an incident was avoidable
- Take urgent action to address staffing shortfalls in maternity services
Ahead of producing its report the Health and Social Care Committee took evidence from the creators of the petition you signed, and their evidence and this petition are referred to in the Committee's report.
The Government will respond to the Committee's report in the coming weeks.
The Committee has also published an evaluation of the Government’s progress against its policy commitments in the area of maternity services in England, which was produced by an Expert Panel selected by the Committee.
Read the Expert Panel's evaluation here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6560/documents/71024/default/
What is the Health and Social Care Committee?
The Health and Social Care Committee scrutinises the work of the Department of Health and Social Care and its associated public bodies. It examines government policy, spending and administration on behalf of the electorate and the House of Commons. It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.
Find out more on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/81/health-and-social-care-committee/
You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter:
This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
MPs to debate Black Maternal Health week
MPs will debate Black Maternal Health week on Tuesday 14 September in Westminster Hall. The debate will be led by Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP.
This will be a general debate. General debates allow MPs to debate important issues, however they do not end in a vote nor can they change the law.
The debate will start at 9.30am and last for up to an hour and a half.
You'll be able to read a transcript of the debate a few hours after it happens:
Find out more about how Parliamentary debates work: