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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:13 am on 14th September 2021.

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Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 10:13 am, 14th September 2021

Absolutely—across black, Asian and mixed ethnic minority groups as well. The point has been made today that black women do not feel listened to. We hear stories of complaints about pain, prolonged labour and other issues, and black women just do not feel as though they are being listened to in that environment. The core finding of the Cumberlege report, which addressed mesh, sodium valproate and Primodos, was that women are not being listened to, and black women probably even more so in the maternity setting. That issue for women, black women, Asian women and women from mixed ethnic backgrounds needs to be addressed. Women have to be listened to.

Turning to covid-19 and vaccinations, covid-19 has further exposed some of the health and wider inequalities that persist within our society. While considering disparities in the context of the pandemic, initial data suggests that vaccine uptake among ethnic minorities is lower than for other groups. Covid-19 vaccines are recommended in pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of covid-19 for women and babies, including admission of the woman to intensive care and premature birth of the baby.

New findings from a National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit-led study showed that of the 742 women admitted to hospital since vaccination data has been collected, only four had received a single dose of the vaccine and none had received both doses. That means more than 99% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with symptomatic covid-19 are unvaccinated. That is quite stark.