On the 18 April 2023 the Women and Equalities Select Committee published a report on Black maternal health. This analysed Government and NHS activities to date in this area and made a number of recommendations for further action needed to end disparities in maternal deaths. This paper sets out the UK Government’s response to the recommendations in this report.
Below is a brief summary of some of the key elements of the Government’s response to the report’s recommendations. Their response can be read in full here.
- The Government rejected a recommendation to commit to increasing the annual budget for maternity services to £200–350 million from the next financial year.
- The Government rejected a recommendation that there should be a cross-government target and strategy, led by the Department of Health and Social Care, for eliminating maternal health disparities.
- The Government accepted partially accepted a recommendation to update the Committee on a six-monthly basis on the progress of the Maternity Disparities Taskforce. However, it declined to publish minutes of Taskforce meetings or publish measures for gauging the success of the Taskforce as requested in the report.
- The Government partially accepted a recommendation to conduct a co-ordinated review to ensure that both the training curricula and continuing professional development requirements for all maternity staff include evidence-based learning on maternal health disparities, its possible causes, and how to deliver culturally competent, personalised and evidence-led care. It stated that NHS England would carry out a scoping exercise to fully understand the implications of co-ordinating this review and determine how best to bring the relevant stakeholders together.
- In response to a recommendation that NHS England should set out their approach for assessing and monitoring the strategies of local maternity services, the Government said each Local Maternity and Neonatal System has produced an Equity and Equality Action Plan which will be published by 31 March 2024.
- The Government did not advise on timescales for the roll-out of the maternal morbidity indicator as requested by one of the report’s recommendations.