Protecting human rights in childbirth

Registered Charity Number 1151152

Government’s Women’s Health Strategy for England published

Following a call for evidence which generated almost 100,000 responses from individuals across England, and building on the Government’s paper Our Vision for Women’s Health, the first Women’s Health Strategy for England, published by the Department for Health and Social Care, sets bold ambitions to tackle deep-rooted, systemic issues within the health and care system to improve the health and wellbeing of women, and reset how the health and care system listens to women.

Every woman has the right to be treated with dignity and respect throughout their maternity journey and indeed throughout life, which is why Birthrights wholeheartedly welcomes the Government’s decision to take a whole life course approach to women’s health. We particularly welcome the strategy’s commitment to prioritise personalised maternity care, and to reduce the disparities in outcomes and experiences for Black, Brown and Mixed Ethnicity women, as well-evidenced in our report Systemic Racism, Not Broken Bodies. We are also pleased that calls for equal access to IVF have been heard.

But while this strategy is a positive development, an urgent uplift in maternity funding is needed to make it a reality. Last year, the Health and Social Care Committee recommended that funding for maternity services was increased by an additional £250-300 million nationally to sufficiently support the maternity workforce. We call on the Government to accept the Committee’s recommendation – this is an important step in ensuring everyone, regardless of background, has access to safe, personalised and inclusive healthcare.

On Monday 18th July, Sandra Igwe and Mars Lord from our inquiry’s expert panel, gave evidence to the Government’s Maternity Disparities Taskforce, which has been established to tackle disparities in outcomes and experiences of care for women and babies by improving access to pre-conception and maternity care for women from ethnic minorities and those living in the most deprived areas.

Download report Systemic Racism, Not Broken Bodies

The safety of hundreds of women and birthing people from Black and Brown and mixed ethnicity backgrounds is being put at risk due to systemic racism within UK maternity care. Download our inquiry’s report.

About Birthrights

Birthrights is the UK charity that champions respectful maternity care by protecting human rights. We provide advice and legal information to women and birthing people, train healthcare professionals to deliver rights-respecting care and campaign to change maternity policy and systems.