RCM urges ‘whole system approach’ to end the inequality gap in maternal mortality

on 12 October 2023 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Government NHS RCM Scotland Scotland Scottish Government Scottish Maternity Services Safety Safe high quality care Staffing Levels

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called for a ‘whole system approach’ to address the higher rates of maternal deaths among Black and Asian women.  The latest findings of the MBRRACE report, released today, show that although there was only a very small increase in the overall maternal death rate compared to 2016-18, there was nearly four-fold difference in maternal mortality rates among Black women and an almost two-fold difference among Asian women compared to white women. Women who live in living in the most deprived areas continue to have the highest mortality rate.

Commenting on the report’s findings, RCM Chief Executive Gill Walton said: “All maternal healthcare should be equal, regardless of race, religion or background. All of us involved in maternity care – midwives, obstetricians and the system itself – must do more to understand and address the difference in outcomes for Black and Asian women and those from the most deprived backgrounds.

“A whole system approach is the only way we can close this gap, and it starts as early as university. The RCM’s work around decolonising the curriculum will help future midwives provide better, appropriate support to non-white women and families in their care, while also ensuring that pathways to midwifery are open to people of colour. Maternity services should reflect the communities they serve, delivering compassionate, empathetic care. As midwives, this is what we aspire to – and we need the wider NHS to support us in doing this.”

The largest causes of maternal mortality between 2019 and 2021 were cardiac disease and COVID-19. None of the 33 women who died from COVID-19 was vaccinated against the virus, and the report found no deaths caused by the vaccination. With COVID-19 infections beginning to rise, the RCM is urging all pregnant women to get vaccinated to protect them and their babies.

The full report can be found here.

View the RCM’s Delcolosing the Midwifery Curriculum Toolkit