Government fails to set target for reducing Black maternal deaths

This week the Government published a response to the call for a target to be put in place to reduce the number of Black women dying during or shortly after childbirth.

In April this year, a report from the Women and Equalities Committee showed how maternity staff shortages, lack of resources, and missing ethnicity data are contributing toward appalling disparities in maternal deaths. Black women are almost 4 times more likely to die in or shortly after childbirth than White women.

At Tommy’s we backed the Committee’s calls for urgent action: the Government must set a firm target to end these disparities.  

Disappointingly, a response published by the Government this week says that setting a target for reducing Black maternal deaths “does not necessarily focus resource and attention through the best mechanisms”. It continues: “We do not believe a target and strategy is the best approach toward progress.”

Kate Davies, our Head of Policy, Research and Information says:  

“We’re really disappointed in the Government’s response. A strong commitment to reducing disparities in pregnancy and baby loss for women and birthing people of different ethnicities must be a priority. Setting a clear target or metrics for change is the best way to measure progress.

“To truly make progress on reducing inequity, any targets set by the Government must also be accompanied by a commitment to fund more pregnancy research, involving those most at risk of pregnancy and baby loss.

“Through our work at Tommy’s, and through the Sands and Tommy’s Joint Policy Unit, we’ll continue to push Government to make sure that tackling inequity in pregnancy and baby loss is the priority it deserves to be.”

Five x More, the grassroots group campaigning to change Black women and birthing people’s maternal outcomes in the UK, greeted the Government response with disappointment, and said that they’ll continue their lobbying work, and working within the Black Maternal Health APPG to advocate for real change.

Tommy’s believes everyone deserves access to safe, personalised care throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Only by listening to people with lived experience, engaging with communities, and collaborating with organisations which work with and represent marginalised groups, can we start to tackle the huge disparities which currently exist in maternity care.