Black Maternal Health Week — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 14th September 2021.

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Photo of Bell Ribeiro-Addy Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour, Streatham 9:30 am, 14th September 2021

I thank the hon. Lady for that timely intervention. She is absolutely right; that shows that this is clearly about racism. It is important that we look to what other countries that also clearly have issues with racism are doing to tackle it.

Alongside the Black Maternal Health Week proclaimed by the White House, the Biden-Harris administration has outlined several action plans specifically looking at addressing maternal health issues. Through the American Rescue Plan Act 2021, $30 million has been reserved for implicit bias training for healthcare providers, as well as a provision that will allow states to expand post-partum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to a full year.

How have our Government responded in comparison? In response to a question I asked one of our equality Ministers, I was told that there was no target because the numbers were not high enough. Our Government have responded with poorly rolled-out plans that actually exacerbate the issue by ignoring the problem altogether. The NHS long-term plan aimed at providing continuity care for women across the country seemed, on paper, like a really good starting point to improve maternal health outcomes. However, a whistleblower at Worcester Royal Hospital has said that, in reality, it has created a two-tier system for pregnant women. To create the new team of continuity carers, midwives have had to be pulled from the hospital’s core staff, leaving the hospital unit without enough specifically trained staff.