Statement in response to the December 2023 maternal reports by MBRRACE-UK and Sands

Responding to the latest maternal reports by MBRRACE-UK and Sands, Professor Habib Naqvi, chief executive of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, said:

“For decades, reports have consistently shown that rates of pregnancy loss and baby deaths are higher amongst Black and Asian women compared to their White counterparts. Despite the long-standing existence of data and evidence, little progress has been made in addressing these inequalities in a meaningful way. Earlier this year, the Women and Equalities Committee’s Black maternal health report recommendation to set a target and strategy to end disparities in maternal deaths was rejected despite the Committee highlighting “appalling” disparities in maternal deaths.

“The reports published by MBRRACE-UK this week, with the caveats and limitations of using limited sample sizes, provide a snapshot comparison of the care of Black, Asian and White mothers whose babies died and highlight significant areas where improvement is still needed. Taking learning from the experiences of Black and Asian bereaved parents, the Sands Listening Project report, also published this week, clearly highlights that with political ambition, and concerted focus through evidence, policy and practice improvement, more Black and Asian babies’ lives can be saved.

“Tackling these inequities, by focusing on evidence-based implementation and improvement, is a key priority for the NHS Race and Health Observatory. We are partnering with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and the Health Foundation, to deliver a Learning and Action Network focused on anti-racism and tackling the deep-seated inequalities in maternal and neonatal care. We will work alongside several healthcare providers and systems to close the gaps on maternal and neonatal mortality between ethnic groups. The clear aim here is to work in collaboration to improve outcomes for mothers and babies from ethnic minority backgrounds.”