Maternity Disparities Task Force Explores Women’s Health Before and During Pregnancy

Maternity Disparities Task Force Explores Women's Health Before and During Pregnancy
  • The discussion focused on the role of GPs, nurses and healthcare professionals in supporting women’s health before and during pregnancy as the NHS tackles the backlog of coronavirus (COVID-19) to improve patient care
  • He called for more targeted interventions to reach ethnic minority women and those living in the most deprived areas.

Women’s Health Minister Maria Caulfield and Chief Midwife Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent co-chaired the second meeting of the Maternity Disparities Task Force this week (Monday 16 May 2022).

The working group led an in-depth discussion on the role of primary care – including GPs, nurses, health professionals, pharmacists – in supporting women’s health before they become pregnant, known as preconception health.

This means not only identifying women who are at higher risk of poor pregnancy-related outcomes and ensuring they receive appropriate support, but also giving women information about how health conditions and factors might affect them and what steps they can take for a healthy pregnancy. This will help ensure mothers and babies receive the best possible care as the Government and NHS work to tackle COVID-19 backlogs, improve care and end long waits for treatment. .

Data shows that there is an almost two-fold difference in death rates between women from Asian ethnic groups and white women, and they are also higher for black women. Black women are 40% more likely to miscarry than white women, and women living in deprived areas may have higher stillbirth rates.

The working group discussed the barriers that some women face in accessing information and services – these may include language barriers, levels of distrust, or concerns of asylum seekers regarding payment for services. They took into account advice from experts, including what effective preconception care is, how to reach those who need it most, and how to ensure that such care improves the health of women and their babies.

Task force members agreed that a more proactive approach is needed to ensure that the right care gets to these women and their families when they need it.

These interventions need to be more targeted towards women from ethnic minorities, those living in the most deprived areas and refugees, and should explore how the wider health and social care system can actively seek out and provide these women. Services. For example, working more closely with local organizations to understand the women he is trying to reach. To achieve this, the task force is committed to listening to women’s lived experiences of accessing preconception and maternity care, and to continuing to engage a range of stakeholders to understand how they can improve care for women and agree on future actions.

Women’s Health Minister Maria Caulfield said:

We must do everything in our power to give women the information and services they need to ensure a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby, regardless of their background or where they live.

The latest Maternity Disparities Task Force meeting brought together experts from across the NHS and health charities to share ideas and experiences on how we can ensure that women from ethnic minorities and areas the most disadvantaged receive the support they need.

By listening to women’s experiences, we can better understand the issues they face and how to improve care, and I look forward to making progress in this area.

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwife for England, said:

The NHS is committed to ensuring that all women, especially those from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged areas, can receive high quality care before, during and after pregnancy.

Health before pregnancy determines health during pregnancy, so it is imperative to provide care tailored to the needs of Black, Asian and minority ethnic women and those most in need.

Listening, understanding, then acting will help improve motherhood outcomes and experiences for women.

Certain habits or health problems can harm a baby. Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to health problems including premature birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, miscarriage and shortness of breath, and being overweight or obese also increases the risk certain pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis, miscarriage and Gestational Diabetes. It is also recommended that women take a daily folic acid supplement to reduce the risk of the baby having a neural tube defect.

The Maternity Disparities Task Force was launched in February 2022 to explore inequalities in maternity care and identify how the government can improve outcomes for women from ethnic minority communities and those living in the most remote areas. disadvantaged.

It will do this by improving personalized support and care for mothers, addressing the impact of broader societal issues on maternal health, improving preconception health education, and empowering women to take evidence-based decisions about their care.

The working group brings together experts from all health services, mothers, government and the voluntary sector, who meet every 2 months.

The government and NHS are working to tackle COVID-19 backlogs while reforming routine care services, ending long waits and improving patient care. The pandemic has put enormous pressure on health and care services and over the next 3 years a record £39billion will be invested through the Health and Care Levy so that the NHS has the funding it needs. The NHS is opening new surgical centers and 160 community diagnostic centers so patients have easier access to tests closer to home – with 88 already open, offering more than 800,000 tests.