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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:28 am on 14th September 2021.

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Photo of Bell Ribeiro-Addy Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour, Streatham 10:28 am, 14th September 2021

I will try not to take up too much time. I am pleased we have had such a full discussion this morning. I know many Members across the House wanted to participate, but were unable to attend. I take confidence in knowing there are many Members in the House who are committed to reducing racial disparities in maternal healthcare.

I want to start by thanking Members who have contributed to the debate and I apologise for any mispronunciations of constituency names. Starting with some simple ones, I thank Nickie Aiken and Caroline Nokes for pointing out how much black women do not feel listened to. The fact about socioeconomic groups was key. I also thank them for pointing out that, because of racism that exists in our society, 70% of black people in this country live in the poorest areas. That definitely has an impact.

I thank my hon. Friend Florence Eshalomi for sharing her experiences. It will be of great encouragement to her to know that St Thomas’ Hospital where she had her two wonderful children—they are my mates—has undergone five times more training than others and many of the midwives have done it, which is great. There are other NHS trusts like Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, which has put together a campaign called HEARD that is meeting these needs, taking steps and training in the gap where it has not been asked to train, and it should be congratulated for that.

My right hon. Friend Ms Abbott made the point that we cannot blame black women for the situations that they find themselves in. Sadly, that is what happens, regardless of confidence, education and socioeconomics. As my right hon. Friend rightly pointed out, this does not always change outcomes, something which Kirsten Oswald also pointed out.

I thank Anne McLaughlin for her frank comments about race and the articulate way in which she described exactly what institutional racism is. If only we had that level of understanding right across the House, I believe that this country would be a different place.

I also thank the Minster for her response and congratulate her on the birth of her grandchild. I thank her for committing to ending racial disparities. I think that this new body sounds like a positive thing, but I am concerned that, despite the new body and what it is going to tackle, it is still unclear whether the Government have understood that institutional racism is a serious factor affecting these outcomes and have made a direct commitment to changing that, especially in the light of the race report.