Protecting human rights in childbirth

Registered Charity Number 1151152

Birthrights responds to scrapping of Health Disparities White Paper

Last week, the Guardian reported the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care has scrapped the government’s long-promised White Paper on health inequalities.

Upon this development, Tracey Fletcher, Interim Chief Executive Officer said:

‘Shelving the Health Disparities White Paper significantly undermines commitments made by the Government in the aspirational Women’s Health Strategy and will slow any progress made by the newly-appointed Maternity Disparities Taskforce.

Echoing the RCOG, recent research attributed 12% of stillbirths in England to ethnic inequality and 24% of stillbirths to socioeconomic inequality. Without addressing health inequalities at its core, the stated UK Government ambition to halve rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths by 2025 will not be achieved.

Black women in the United Kingdom are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women; Asian and mixed-race women are twice as likely. Persistent inequality in maternal outcome is an urgent human rights issue. Urgent action must be taken to address it. We urge the Government to maintain the commitment to publishing this vital White Paper by the end of this year as planned.’

Notes for editors

Research: The Lancet, Adverse pregnancy outcomes attributable to socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities in England: a national cohort study

On Monday 18th July, Sandra Igwe and Mars Lord from Birthrights’ racial injustice in maternity care inquiry expert panel, gave evidence to the Government’s Maternity Disparities Taskforce. The Taskforce 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.