Improving equity and equality in maternity and neonatal care
What the NHS is doing and how
The NHS is working to improve equity for mothers and babies and equality in experience for staff. The NHS has set out why this work is needed, the aims of this work and how the NHS will achieve its aims in two documents:
- Guidance for Local Maternity Systems: Equity and Equality: Guidance for Local Maternity Systems. Based on the five health inequalities priorities in the 2021/22 Planning Guidance, this will help Local Maternity Systems align their Equality and Equality Action Plans with Integrated Care Systems health inequalities work. The guidance includes an analysis of the evidence, interventions to improve equity and equality, resources, indicators and metrics.
- Four pledges to women, babies and staff: NHS pledges to improve equity for mothers and babies and race equality for staff. The four pledges help create a shared understanding of why work on equity and equality is needed, and the aims and outcomes of this work. The four pledges can help ‘set the scene’ in local co-production work.
The guidance seeks to respond to the findings of the MBRRACE-UK reports about maternal and perinatal mortality, which show worse outcomes for those from Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups and those living in the most deprived areas. In doing so, consideration was given to the strong evidence highlighted in the NHS People Plan that “…where an NHS workforce is representative of the community that it serves, patient care and…patient experience is more personalised and improves”. Therefore, the strategy recognises that improving equity for mothers and babies also requires a focus on race equality for staff.
The guidance has been produced under the clinical leadership of:
- Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE, Chief Midwifery Officer for England
- Dr Matthew Jolly, National Clinical Director for Maternity and Women’s Health
- Dr Misha Moore, National Specialty Advisor for Obstetrics – Public Health
- Wendy Olayiwola BEM, National Maternity Lead for Equality.
The guidance was developed by examining the evidence and consulting parents (including Maternity Voices Partnerships and service user voice representatives), NHS staff, royal colleges, arm’s length bodies, government, the VCSE sector and others. Thank you to all who contributed; your input has strengthened the guidance.