Imprisonment should not compromise maternity care for women says RCM
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UK prisons must ensure women who are pregnant and imprisoned are receiving high quality safe care throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatally. That’s the message from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as it addresses the TUC’s Women’s Conference in London.
The RCM is calling for all UK women’s prisons to take a First 1001 Days approach to the care pregnant women where receiving it would ensure that maternal and new-born health is not compromised by imprisonment.
Commenting, Alice Sorby Employment Relations Advisor at the RCM said: “Just last week the Nuffield Trust published a report confirming RCM concerns that some pregnant women in prison are giving birth in their cells and are not receiving safe or adequate or maternity care. Women in prison are some of the most vulnerable in our society and that is why continuity of midwifery care is so important. It can have a significant impact on maternal and neonatal outcomes for vulnerable women and their babies.”
In 2019 the RCM called on the Government to urgently review the current situation for pregnant woman in the Criminal Justice System following the tragic death of a newborn after a woman gave birth alone in her cell at HMP Bronzefield.
Alice added: “It’s vital that women’s prisons work with their local NHS Trusts and Health Boards to facilitate specialist midwifery care for pregnant women in prison. All women in prison must have equivalent maternity care to those on the outside. Any delay or reduced access to any treatment constitutes a gross violation of women’s rights.”
The RCM believes that all UK women’s prisons should implement the Birth Companions’ Birth Charter in full and without delay and prison inspectorates in all four parts of the UK should audit women’s prisons against the standards outlined in the Charter.
Notes to Editors
RCM motion for TUC Womens Conference:
A specific Prison Service Instruction to be developed for perinatal women, which covers every women’s Prison in the UK, taking a First 1001 days approach.
All UK women’s prisons to implement the Birth Companions’ Birth Charter in full and without delay.
The TUC’s Women’s Conference 2020 takes place from Wednesday March 4-6 on London. https://www.tuc.org.uk/events/international-womens-day-seminar-eachforequal
In 2019 the RCM published a Position Statement on Women in the Criminal Justice System following the tragic death of a newborn after a woman gave birth alone in her cell at HMP Bronzefield.https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3640/perinatal-women-in-the-criminal-justice-system_7.pdf.
Nuffield Trust Report - ‘Locked out? Prisoners' use of hospital care’
RCM responds to first 1000 Days of Life Report – January 2019
Birth Companions (2016). Birth Charter for women in prisons in England and Wales. https://www.birthcompanions.org.uk/Birth-Charter
To contact the RCM media relations team, call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected]
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