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More deaths, worse care: inquiry opens into NHS maternity ‘systemic racism’

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An urgent inquiry to investigate how alleged systemic racism in the NHS manifests itself in maternity care will be launched on Tuesday with support from the UK charity Birthrights.

The inquiry will apply a human rights lens to examine how claimed racial injustice – from explicit racism to bias – is leading to poorer health outcomes in maternity care for ethnic minority groups.

Data published last month by MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the country) showed black women were four times more likely than white women to die in pregnancy or childbirth in the UK while women from Asian ethnic backgrounds face twice the risk.

Barrister Shaheen Rahman QC, who will lead the inquiry, said: “In addition to these stark statistics there are concerns about higher rates of maternal illness, worse experiences of maternity care and the fact black and Asian pregnant women are far more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

“We want to understand the stories behind the statistics, to examine how people can be discriminated against due to their race and to identify ways this inequity can be redressed.”

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Source: The Guardian, 7 February 2021

 

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