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Conference highlights racial disparity in UK maternal healthcare

Unconscious bias in the UK healthcare system is contributing to the stark racial disparity in maternal healthcare outcomes, a conference has heard.

The Black Maternal Health Conference UK, also heard that black women not being listened to by healthcare professionals was also a contributing factor.

The conference, organised by The Motherhood Group, was arranged to highlight the racial inequality in maternal healthcare and the disparity in maternal mortality between white, ethnic minority and black women in the UK.

Black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women, according to a report published by MBRRACE-UK. Asian women are twice as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth.

Sandra Igwe, who founded the NGO The Motherhood Group in 2016 after the traumatic birth of her daughter, told the PA Media that the event was an opportunity to “bridge the community, stakeholders, professionals, [and] government”, de-stigmatise mental health and bring about change to improve black maternal health.

“There are so many stats – so why wouldn’t we have a whole day’s conference dedicated to addressing these, just scratching the surface of some of the stats?”

Charities and activists have been raising alarm bells about the dangerous consequences of unconscious bias in maternal healthcare for many years. Igwe co-chaired the Birthrights inquiry, a year-long investigation into racial injustice in the UK maternity services, which heard testimony from women, birthing people, healthcare professionals and lawyers and concluded that “systemic racism exists in the UK and in public services”.

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Source: The Guardian, 20 March 2023

Sandra Igwe is our hub topic lead for Black Maternal Health. Read our recent interview with Sandra.


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