RCM calls for ‘swift implementation’ of NHS England action plan to support BAME pregnant women

By RCM calls for ‘swift implementation’ of NHS England action plan to support BAME pregnant women on 21 June 2020 RCM Maternity Services RCM CEO NHS England England NHS BAME Safe high quality care Safety Women Pregnancy Midwifery Continuity of Carer - MCOC

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has today called for swift implementation of an action plan announced by NHS England to provide additional support for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) pregnant women.

The new action plan from NHS England comes in the same week as the RCM launched its Race Matters campaign which pledges to tackle inequalities in maternity services,  support research and champion positive change to improve outcomes for women from BAME communities. 

Commenting, CEO of the RCM, Gill Walton CEO said: “Even before this pandemic woman from black, Asian or ethnic minority backgrounds had poorer pregnancy outcomes and COVID-19 has sharpened this inequality further. The RCM has campaigned and highlighted the need for urgent action to better support these women, so we welcome this step from NHS England.

The Chief Midwifery Officer for England Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent has written to all maternity units in the country calling on them to take four specific actions to minimise the additional risk of Covid-19 for BAME women and their babies.

Gill added:

“The RCM supports the steps the Chief Midwifery Officer has asked maternity units to undertake and we are calling for these actions to be implemented swiftly. During the pandemic, the RCM launched a campaign aimed at pregnant women from BAME backgrounds to ensure they were not missing important antenatal appointments or scans and I know midwives have been extra vigilant following up with women who have missed appointments, but despite these efforts black and Asian women remain at unacceptable risk.


“Continuity of carer also has a key role to play if we are to minimise risk and improve safety and outcomes for BAME women. The NHS Long Term plan itself includes a pledge that three-quarters of pregnant BAME women will receive care from the same midwife before, during and after they give birth. So, let’s future proof our maternity service to ensure we have enough midwives going forward to deliver safe high-quality care.”


To contact the RCM media office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].


Notes to Editors


  1. This week the RCM launched its Race Matters campaign to tackle race issues within maternity services, not only for midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs), but also for the pregnant women in their care. www.rcm.org.uk/racematters  #racematters

2. The four-step action plan from NHS England includes the following:

  • Increasing support of at-risk pregnant women – e.g. making sure clinicians have a lower threshold to review, admit and consider multidisciplinary escalation in women from a BAME background.
  • Reaching out and reassuring pregnant BAME women with tailored communications.
  • Ensuring hospitals discuss vitamin, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy with all women.
  • Ensuring all providers record on maternity information systems the ethnicity of every woman, as well as other risk factors, such as living in a deprived area,co-morbidities, BMI and aged 35 years or over, to identify those most at risk of poor outcomes.

3. The Inequality of COVID-19 https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views/rcm-opinion/2020/the-inequality-of-covid-19/

4. Advice NHS staff who may be more at risk from COVID-19 because of the race can be read at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3939/risk-assessment-wraparound-guidance-a3-may-2020.pdf.

5. System failing BAME women’ says RCM https://www.rcm.org.uk/media-releases/2020/june/system-failing-bame-women-says-rcm-on-new-study/

6. RCM offers advice to pregnant women as new study shows heightened risk to some communities https://www.rcm.org.uk/media-releases/2020/may/rcm-offers-advice-to-pregnant-women-as-new-study-shows-heightened-risk-to-some-communities/


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/.