Black Maternal Healthcare and Mortality Debate

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Department: Department of Health and Social Care

Black Maternal Healthcare and Mortality

Janet Daby Excerpts
Monday 19th April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab) [V]
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I am pleased to be speaking today on such an important but also disturbing issue. I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Bell Ribeiro-Addy) for sharing such a personal, moving story that is so relevant to the debate.

Every death in maternity is a tragedy, but it is wrong that we are having to speak on the issue of black women dying during pregnancy or soon after giving birth in the UK. It is unacceptable that the disparity exists between women from different ethnic backgrounds. It is most distressing that when a mother dies, a child or children are left motherless, not to mention the loss to their partner or spouse and to the wider community. Too many unanswered questions need to be asked, and too many changes need to be made, and that is why we request that the Government work with the NHS to improve maternal health outcomes of black women, women of mixed heritage and Asian women.

As we have already heard, compared with white European women, black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth, women of mixed heritage are three times more likely to die, and Asian women are two times more likely to die. African women are 83% more likely to suffer a near miss in childbirth, and black Caribbean women are 80% more likely to do so. That is all happening in the UK. It is shameful and outrageous. How and why is it happening? It is a huge concern regarding equality of care. Why are non-white women’s experiences so different compared with those of white women? Change needs to happen, and it is this Government’s responsibility to make the change happen.

These babies are 121% more at risk of stillbirth. Their life chances are limited before they are even born. Do these little black lives matter? I think they do, and I know that many Members in this Chamber agree with that. Immediate interim changes and safeguards need to be put in place now for these vulnerable women to protect their lives: the lives of the mothers and children.

I call on the Government to implement the recommendations in the Joint Committee on Human Rights report on black maternal health, “Black people, racism and human rights”, to ensure that all health professionals record and identify those who are most at risk of poor outcomes, so that protective factors are implemented. I also call on the Government to ensure that there is increased support for at-risk pregnant women. I ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to introduce a plan and target to improve maternal outcomes for black women. Professor Maggie Rae, president of the Faculty of Public Health, has said:

“This year’s coronavirus pandemic has brought this disparity even more starkly to the fore, and we must not lose sight of the actions that are required to address systemic biases that impact on the care we provide for ethnic minority women.”