Published On: 30 October 2008Tags:

This briefing examines the maternity experiences of women from black and minority ethnic communities in the UK, drawing on both qualitative and quantitative research. It sets out to identify barriers that may disadvantage minoritised women and offers suggestions for service improvement, while recognising the great heterogeneity that exists within and between minority ethnic ‘groups’ and the need, therefore, for flexible and nuanced responses.

Key messages:

  • Significant ethnic inequalities in maternity outcomes persist in the UK, with some minority ethnic groups experiencing particular disadvantage
  • Determinants of ethnic health inequalities are multifactorial. However, there is evidence that current service provision contributes importantly to adverse outcomes for minority women
  • A number of barriers can be identified that undermine timely access to high quality care for many black and minority ethnic women
  • Commissioners, managers and practitioners need to know their local population and consult and engage with service users in order to address inequalities


  • Persistent ethnic inequalities in maternity outcomes and experiences
  • Ethnic disparities in access to and receipt of maternity services
  • Barriers to high quality care and satisfaction with services
  • Effective utilisation of population profiling and patient consultation
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Author(s): Kuldip K. Bharj; Sarah Salway
Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 11
Publisher: Race Equality Foundation
Publication date:  October 2008