Efforts must be redoubled to tackle deprivation and inequalities that have led to stillbirths say RCM
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has welcomed a report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on births and infant mortality in England and Wales* that focuses on ethnicity.
The stillbirth rate and infant mortality rate for each of the ethnic groups have varied, but generally decreased from 2007 to 2019 following the national trends. However, the highest rates of stillbirths and infant deaths occur in babies from the Black ethnic group, with babies from the Asian ethnic group consistently the second highest.
The report statisticians have cited deprivation as a risk factor for stillbirth and infant mortality and over three-quarters of babies from the Black ethnic group are born in the most deprived areas of England.
Responding; Dr Mary Ross-Davie, the RCM’s Director for Professional Midwifery, said:
“Behind each of these figures is a family which has suffered incredible loss and sadly again we see Black, Asian and minority ethnic women suffering tragic loss which is disproportionate to that of white women. While we welcome the fact that this report now provides this level of detail, the RCM is calling on the Government to do more to tackle the socio-economic deprivation that have significantly contributed to these stillbirths and deaths. Despite the huge efforts from midwives and maternity staff more action is needed nationally, and a multi-agency approach is needed to address the wider inequalities faced by women of colour.”
The RCM, working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), is committed to improving healthcare services to be fully inclusive, to reduce health variations, and to make sure every woman receives the very best care, experience and outcome whatever their background or race.
“Overall, we are seeing fewer stillbirths which is testament to the dedication and efforts of our maternity staff and their NHS colleagues. While the RCM is working hard with other organisations to improve safety and the care of women at risk of stillbirth, there also needs to be a strong policy drive from the Government to reduce the inequalities that increase the risk of stillbirth. We need to see policies that seek to reduce poverty, improve housing, that reverse cuts to public health funding and cuts to vital services that provide community, interpreting and advocacy support to women who were not born in the UK or who don’t have English as a first language, to ensure that they can access the financial, social and health support they need.”
To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]
Notes to Editors:
- *Read full ONS report here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/childhealth/articles/birthsandinfantmortalitybyethnicityinenglandandwales/2007to2019
The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website.