A PETITION has been launched in the UK to support black British women at risk of dying from childbirth.
The petition, which was created by Mari Nicholas, aims to reach 100,000 signatures, in order to have the issue debated in parliament.
“Black women in the UK are five times more likely to die from complications surrounding pregnancy and childbirth than white women. We need an urgent review of care with recommendations on how to ensure it is no more dangerous for black women to give birth in the UK than white women,” the petition states.
40 per 100,000 pregnancies saw black women dying during or six weeks after pregnancy, according to reports analysing maternal death rates in the UK from 2014 to 2016. This differed considerably compared to white women who died 8 per 100,000 pregnancies, and asian women who died 15 per 100,000 pregnancies.
This is supported by a report from MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) at the University of Oxford. They found 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.
In an interview with The Voice, the report’s author, Professor Marian Knight, said: “We [MBRRACE-UK] have two projects that are already ongoing. We are looking specifically at women from black and minority ethnic groups who have died, to find out in more detail about the medical complications that underlie the reasons for their death.
“That will help us better design our NHS maternity services to care properly for women with these health complications. We are also examining the medical records of all of the BAME women who have died, to look at factors associated with their ethnicity which may underlie their deaths.
“Some of these may be straightforward issues such as language and cultural barriers to accessing care. These may lead to problems in terms of women presenting later if they have underlying health problems before and during pregnancy.”
The petition has so far seen over 29,000 signatures and resulted in a response from the government on July 29.
They said: “Continuity of carer can significantly improve outcomes for women from ethnic minorities. The NHS Long-Term plan sets out that 75% of black women will receive continuity of carer from midwives by 2024.”
The NHS Long Term plan was initially published in January 2019 and in April 2019, they outlined local plans for 2019/20. This included:
- Reducing stillbirths and mother and child deaths during birth by 50%
- Ensuring most women can benefit from continuity of carer through and beyond their pregnancy, targeted towards those who will benefit most
- Providing extra support for expectant mothers at risk of premature birth
At the launch of the NHS Long Term plan, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS long term plan, backed by a historic commitment of an extra £20.5 billion a year from taxpayers, marks an important moment not just for the health service but for the lives of millions of patients and hardworking NHS staff across the country.
“Whether it’s treating ever more people in their communities, using the latest technology to tackle preventable diseases, or giving every baby the very best start in life, this government has given the NHS the multi-billion-pound investment needed to nurture and safeguard our nation’s health service for generations to come.”
To sign the petition, click here