It has recently been reported that, following an investigation by the charity Birthrights, Black and Asian women are being harmed by racial discrimination in maternity care. Reports included themes of concerns about pain and contractions being routinely dismissed, women feeling unsafe, stereotyping, being denied pain relief and microaggressions.
The year-long investigation has reported how systematic racism can have devastating consequences, with statistics highlighting how there are notable racial disparities in maternal mortality rates. Shaheen Rahman QC, a barrister who specialises in clinical negligence, commented “black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women; Asian and mixed-race women are twice as likely. This glaring inequality prompted Birthrights to...examine how race discrimination impacts upon maternity care”.
The Birthrights report highlights the need for urgent action, including training for health care professionals which highlights diversity.
It is understood that the government has set up a taskforce to tackle racial disparities in maternity care, and a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the Maternity Disparities Taskforce would "level up maternity care for all women" and "it will address factors linked to unacceptable disparities in quality of care, experiences and outcomes."
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their race, amongst a number of other protected characteristics.