The Royal College of Midwives responds to new report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration
on 21 November 2018 Global midwifery
The report published 20th November on the inspection of the Home Office's management of asylum accommodation provision clearly demonstrates that urgent improvements need to be made in order to safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable adults granted asylum, such as pregnant and post-partum women.
The report includes data from a midwife's caseload to show the complexity of the physical and mental healthcare needs of pregnant women and new mothers. Asylum-seeking women in the UK are three times more likely to die in childbirth .
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) welcomes the findings and recommendations in the report, which highlights where there are failings in the provision of care and the ways in which these can be rectified.
The report revealed that poor information-sharing has existed between the Home Office and midwifery services, and that it is vitally necessary to change this without delay, as well as capture and analyse the data on the women granted asylum, to ensure the health of vulnerable mothers and their new-born children. Basic information, such as the number of women in asylum accommodation, needs to become routinely available.
Other causes for concern include the type of housing offered, which was judged often ill-suited to the needs of pregnant or post-partum women: narrow terraced houses with steep staircases, for example, create mobility issues. Additionally, a lack of essential items, such as cots and sterilising equipment – despite being part of the contract that governs asylum accommodation – was frequently found.
Most concerning of all, however, was that the Inspection Team found the Home Office has yet to engage fully with the crucial steps to safeguard the health of pregnant women outlined in a document of planned actions in a report produced last year by the Home Affairs Committee.
Gabrielle Bourke, Policy Advisor at the RCM, said:
"As the Home Office negotiates the new contract for asylum accommodation, the RCM is calling for the guidance for caring for pregnant women and new mothers to be made a priority.
"Contractual requirements can be difficult to fully implement on the ground, but if the Home Office can use its considerable influence to unlock the potential of the Chief Inspector's report then it is likely to have great impact.
"The Home Office's will to listen and create necessary changes on the ground will be a crucial factor in determining future outcomes for vulnerable people."
To contact the RCM Media Office, call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected]
Notes to editors
The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.
 Asif S, Baugh A, Jones NW. The obstetric care of asylum seekers and refugee women in the UK. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist 2015;17:223–31. https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/tog.12224