A year-long investigation finds “systemic racism” in UK maternity care

A year-long investigation into UK maternity care has found “systemic racism” is being experienced by black, Asian and mixed-race women.

Charity Birthrights said the findings included evidence of a lack of physical and psychological safety; experiences of being ignored and disbelieved; dehumanization; coercion and a lack of choice and consent.

Research chair Shaheen Rahman QC said the research was driven by the knowledge that black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth and Asian and mixed-race women are twice as likely.

“There is nothing ‘wrong’ with black or brown bodies that would explain the differences in maternal mortality rates, outcomes and experiences,” she said.

“What is required now is a determined focus on individualized, rights-respecting care.”

There is nothing “wrong” with black or brown bodies, which might explain the differences in maternal mortality rates, outcomes and experiences

Investigation Chair Shaheen Rahman

The inquiry panel heard evidence from over 300 people with lived and professional experience of racial injustice in maternity care.

The panel heard from a woman who said jaundice had not been detected in her black baby and her concerns were dismissed.

“At the hospital, the doctor admitted the reading was very high, but insisted that nothing from his appearance indicated he had severe jaundice, just a ‘slight’ yellowing of his eyes,” the woman said

“They took another reading and sent his blood, it was even higher than the last one. My baby was immediately hospitalized for several weeks.

“White staff failed to detect jaundice in a black baby.”

Other respondents told the panel stories of sepsis that was dismissed during childbirth and a life-threatening blood clot that was missed postnatally.

The Department of Health and Social Care set up a task force in February to address racial inequalities in maternity care.

A spokesman for the Department for Health and Social Care told the BBC the Taskforce on Maternity Inequalities will “improve maternity care for all women”.

“It will address factors associated with unacceptable disparities in quality of care, experiences and outcomes.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/department-of-health-and-social-care-asian-black-bbc-b2084913.html A year-long investigation finds “systemic racism” in UK maternity care

Bobby Allyn

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