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Continuing evidence of disproportionate deaths of Black and Asian pregnant women

A statement from the Race Equality Foundation and Maternity Action on the publication State of Care report by the Care Quality Commission.

The Race Equality Foundation and Maternity Action welcome the attention the CQC have drawn to the persistence of poorer experiences of Black and Asian women who are pregnant, with the significant greater risk of maternal death.  The State of Care report notes that COVID-19 has exacerbated ‘these disparities’.  But we are disappointed that the CQC has not asked for more urgent action.  

At a joint webinar on Thursday 15th October, participants heard that key aspects of change such as continuity of care and lack of choice and involvement in their care promised by the Maternity Transformation Programme two years ago were still not available Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women.  Worryingly, we also heard that the risk assessments that employers should be carrying out because pregnancy increases risk of death if you are infected by COVID-19, are not being done or being done poorly with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women.

With the publication of the State of Care report we are calling on:

  • NHS England to publish by the end of October the steps they are taking to ensure that Maternity Transformation programme will reach and impact Black, Asian and Minority ethnic women, including how continuity of care will be guaranteed.
  • That the Government publish clear guidance for employers on managing pregnant women during COVID-19, so that employers better understand their obligations to conduct risk assessments and the actions that they need to take to protect the health of women, including BAME women at high risk of COVID-19 complications.
  • That the Care Quality Commission should specifically inspect maternity services and report on progress on the actions being taken to address the disproportionate deaths of Black and Asian pregnant women.

Jabeer Butt, CEO of Race Equality Foundation and Rosalind Bragg, CEO of Maternity Action