Under this workstream, we will focus on areas in health and care that have long shown ethnic inequalities in access, experience, or outcomes – working to reshape policy and practice so that they support fair health and care for all. The priorities for our first three years of funding will be maternity and neonatal health; and mental health and wellbeing. Both areas have been highlighted by our stakeholders as needing concerted attention to deliver equity.
Maternal health is among the starkest examples of racial health inequality in the UK. While overall maternal mortality has fallen over the past decade, the evidence suggests a widening gap between the mortality rates of women from different ethnic backgrounds. We also know that women from all Black, Asian and minority groups are at greater risk than their White counterparts of having their pregnancies result in pre-term birth, stillbirth, neonatal death, or delivering a baby born with low birth weight.
In mental health, we know there are severe disparities in terms of access to mental health treatment, and that Black groups are over-represented in some mental health pathways. In addition, we know that the application of the Mental Health Act is unequal, distorted by stigma and stereotyping, to the detriment of Black and minority ethnic communities. With the government in the process of reforming the Mental Health Act, it is important that there is a voice in the system representing these groups.
As part of this workstream, we:
- Work with our specialist advisory groups, drawing together experts from across the health and care system, including clinicians, those with lived experience, academics, system leaders, and representatives from the voluntary and charity sectors.
- Fund original research and synthesise existing evidence, using this intelligence as the basis of actionable recommendations for policy makers.
- Work to build a broad network of patients, community groups, policy makers and other experts, and facilitate conversations about the future of race equality in maternity health and mental health.