Urgent need to improve maternity care for minority ethnic patients

THERE is an "urgent need" to improve care for mothers and babies from minority ethnic and deprived backgrounds, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has said.

College president Dr Eddie Morris spoke out following publication of the latest statistics on rates of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the MBRRACE report.

The report noted that, while overall perinatal deaths in the UK are declining – with the rate of stillbirths decreasing by 20 per cent between 2013 and 2019 – there are key areas that need to be prioritised.

Among the key findings are that babies born to women in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to be stillborn, and are at a 73 per cent excess risk of neonatal death, compared to women living in least deprived area. This risk has increased between 2015 and 2019.

Mortality rates are higher for babies of Black ethnicity, with stillbirth rates over twice what they are for babies of white ethnicity, and neonatal mortality rates at 43 per cent higher.

Dr Morris said there was an "urgent need" for healthcare professionals, policy makers and public health services to work together, to eliminate "the unnecessary increased risk to these women".

He said the College was developing a new app – the "Tommy’s clinical decision tool" – to help clinicians assess pregnancy risks.

Chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives Gill Walton called the report’s findings "stark and deeply worrying" and called for efforts to increase midwife recruitment and for greater investment in the NHS and maternity services.

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