We must tackle inequalities that lead to baby deaths says RCM

on 11 December 2020 NHS Staff Maternity Services BAME Maternity Safety

Confronting the inequalities, poverty, and deprivation causing many baby deaths head-on must be a priority says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), responding to the publication of a new MBRRACE report yesterday.  

Zeenath Uddin, Head of Quality and Safety at the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“Despite maternity services making incredible efforts to reduce stillbirths, babies are still dying simply because their mothers come from a particular ethnic group or because of where they live. In the UK in 2020 this is a national scandal that must be tackled head-on. The safety of the mothers and babies in our maternity services must be in the DNA of everyone involved in their wellbeing, not just those in maternity units, but Government and policymakers too.  We must support and care for the women most at risk of losing their baby much better, and learn from every death to reduce the chances of it happening again to somebody else. Anything less is failing women, their babies, and their families.” 

The report found that stillbirth rates for black babies are over twice those for white babies, with lower, but still high, rates for Asian babies. Rates of deaths of babies in these groups are also falling more slowly than for white babies. It also says that women living in the most deprived areas are at an 80% higher risk of stillbirth and neonatal death than women living in the least deprived areas. 


Zeenath Uddin added, “Maternity and health services cannot though do this alone, fantastic as their efforts are.  They are at the sharp end of a problem in our society which begins long before these women become pregnant, and which needs massive and widespread attention to our housing and benefits system and much more. Every death is a bereaved mother and family, and every death is one which perhaps could have been prevented.” 


Notes to editors

The MBRRACE report can be read at https://oxfile.ox.ac.uk/oxfile/work/extBox;jsessionid=AB7F1B869AD75175116B38E9913014EB?execution=e1s1

The RCM’s Race Matters campaign aims to improve the care for women and staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. For more information see https://www.rcm.org.uk/supporting/race-matters/.

Improving safety and outcomes for women and babies is the highest priority says RCM  https://www.rcm.org.uk/media-releases/2020/january/improving-safety-and-outcomes-for-women-and-babies-is-the-highest-priority-says-rcm/ 

The RCOG’s national project ‘Each Baby Counts’ has enabled us to create the right tools, along with the RCM, to improve care https://www.rcog.org.uk/eachbabycounts

Each Baby Counts + Learn & Support is a joint initiative between the RCOG and RCM to help improve maternity care in England, looking at issues around workplace culture and staff wellbeing 

RCM, RCOG and Tommy’s form maternity alliance https://www.tommys.org/about-us/charity-news/tommys-opens-national-centre-maternity-improvement

RCM and RCOG publish joint statement on electronic fetal monitoring   https://www.rcm.org.uk/media-releases/2017/july/rcm-and-rcog-publish-joint-statement-on-electronic-fetal-monitoring/

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/