The Department of Health and Social Care (2022) has announced a new taskforce to handle disparities in maternity care for women from ethnic minorities and those living in deprived areas. There is ongoing evidence of disparities in maternity care for women from ethnic minorities, including, for example, that black women are 40% more likely to experience a miscarriage than white women. The taskforce aims to address these issues and identify the barriers that are faced by women in groups who experience disparities in care (Department of Health and Social Care, 2022).
Inequality in maternity care has gained much attention recently. On 22 February, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM, 2022a) called on the government to scrap NHS charging of migrant women for maternity services. This call was made among several other proposed changes to current policies for handling migrant women who are pregnant, as the RCM (2022b) recent position statement on migrant women makes clear this is another group who experience disparities in maternity care. As well as the complete removal of NHS charging for migrant women, the RCM (2022b) recommends that the protected time in which women are not allowed to be relocated be extended from 34 weeks to 20 weeks, and that the Home Office should audit and evaluate the implementation of the protected time policy. This policy aims to address concerns over pregnant women being moved at short notice, which can disrupt care and make it harder for these women to build a trusting relationship with health professionals during care.
This month, two of our articles in the British Journal of Midwifery also address inequality in maternity care. Chubb et al (2022) examine implicit bias in the care of black, Asian and minority ethnic babies by exploring midwives' understanding of implicit bias before and after implementation of a training programme.
Crowe (2022) explores the literature surrounding factors that contribute to health inequalities for women who are not white British in the UK, concluding that structural racism, stereotypes and implicit bias are some of the important factors to consider.
It is my fervent hope that by continuing to highlight inequalities in care and publish the latest research and recommendations, that the British Journal of Midwifery and its wonderful community of authors, reviewers and readers can contribute to making high-quality maternity care accessible and available for all women who need it, across the UK.