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 thank the Minister, but my main point was that while the work is ongoing, given what has been said in the past about institutional racism, will it be with a recognition of how it affects our various bodies, not least the NHS? Accepting that point, which many of us do not believe has been done before, is key to making sure that we get the outcomes that we need overall.

As many Members know, this topic is particularly close to me and is not always easy for me to talk about. Many of those engaged in the campaign to end racial disparity in maternal health care experienced the same thing. When we detail our past events and the experiences, we do not do so to gain sympathy. We do so to give a voice to the hundreds of black women each year who have similar experiences, and in the hope that our stories will help to spur the change needed so that black women no longer face negative outcomes and the negative treatment we so often face. Bringing children into this world should not be a matter of life or death. We have a duty here, particularly with what we are tasked to do every day in our work, not just for the mothers who do not survive the dangerous birth experiences but for the many who go on to experience trauma.

I hope that the Government have been spurred into further action. I will continue to hold the Minister’s feet to the fire, since she sounds as if she enjoys it. I call on the Government to do a lot more: to ensure that we have proper data collection; to increase the support available for at-risk women; to implement the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Human Rights report “Black people, racism and human rights”; to identify those barriers to accessing maternal mental healthcare services and increasing the accessibility of mental health services after miscarriage and traumatic maternal experiences; to engage with black women in improving their experiences of maternal health services; and to commission a review of institutional racism and racial bias in the NHS and medical education to address the learned stereotypes about black and ethnic minority women that impact us so much.

By committing to those steps, the Government can demonstrate that they are serious about tackling racial disparities. Members have heard me say it before, and I will say it again: the colour of woman’s or a birthing person’s skin should not have an impact on their health or the health of their baby. The sad reality is that in this country it does, and while the Government appear to hear and are making some headway, I really want them to listen. I believe that they will truly have listened only when we have those targets and those very clear mechanisms to end institutional racism in our health service.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered Black Maternal Health Week.

Sitting suspended.