To mark the first meeting of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) Race Equality Taskforce, the RCOG and Five X More have today launched ‘five steps for healthcare professionals’, a campaign to help reduce maternal health disparities in the UK.
These five actions for healthcare professionals to adopt involve removing barriers to communication, listening closely to a pregnant woman’s concerns, anxieties and feelings of pain and checking that the information being provided is clear to aid joint decision making.
The campaign also highlights the importance of completing detailed documentation to support continuity of care and advocates that healthcare professionals become a champion for change in their workplace.
Statistics published by MBRRACE-UK in 2019 show Black women are five times more likely to die in pregnancy, childbirth or in the six-week postpartum period compared with white women and the risk for Asian women is twice as high.
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large UK study on the outcomes of 427 pregnant women and their babies found that 55% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with coronavirus were from a Black, Asian or other minority ethnic background, despite the fact 13% of the UK population identify themselves as Black, Asian or minority ethnic.
The RCOG’s Race Equality Taskforce, whose members include doctors, midwives, policy makers and service users, will work to better understand and tackle racial disparities in women’s healthcare and racism within the obstetric and gynaecology workforce.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Chair of the Race Equality Taskforce, said:
“We are proud to have worked with Five X More to create this campaign as a tool for healthcare professionals to use when communicating with women.
“We hope that by adopting these actions, we can help to drive change in maternity and obstetric care, improve attitudes and go some way to ending the maternal inequalities experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic women.
“Personally, I will be using these five steps when providing care as a reminder of what we all work hard to try and do every day, but sometimes forget when under pressure at work.
“We have a duty, as a College and as healthcare professionals, to work together to eradicate these shocking disparities. This is the first step in doing just that, but we have a long way to go.
“Our Race Equality Taskforce, which is meeting for the first time today, will work hard to better understand the complex reasons that lie behind these statistics, find meaningful solutions to eradicate inequalities for women and address the racial bias experienced by healthcare professionals.”
Tinuke and Clotilde, the Five X More founders, said:
“We are honoured to work with the RCOG on this campaign and believe it will be a useful tool for healthcare professionals to use in knowing how to communicate better with women.
“From running our campaign, we hear a lot of stories and experiences from Black women who say their concerns were not taken seriously by the health professionals providing them with care or that they didn’t feel listened to during pregnancy and childbirth.
“We already have our 6 steps that we recommend for Black women going into pregnancy and labour. We believe that when you couple this with the newly launched steps and actions for healthcare professionals, we can start to eradicate these shocking statistics and start improving the maternal disparities we see in Black women.”
Notes to Editors
For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the ‘Five Steps for healthcare professionals’ campaign page.
Read the RCOG’s policy position statement on health disparities in women’s healthcare.
The Race Equality Taskforce exists to:
- Ensure the work of the RCOG is fully reflective of its stance on racial equality
- Understand and address how racism affects Fellows, Members and Trainees of the RCOG
- Improve awareness and training to combat racism within the health service
- Improve undergraduate and postgraduate education in identifying and reducing racism and unconscious bias in the workforce
- Tackle the contributing factors which have led to poorer patient outcomes for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women
- Consider the role that medical research can play in addressing disparities in outcomes for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women.
About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.
About Five X More
Five X More is a grassroots campaign committed to changing the fact that Black women are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and after childbirth than White women. It was initiated in 2019 when two mothers came together with the dream of improving maternal mortality rates and health care outcomes for Black women in the UK. We support Black mothers with our 6 recommended steps and advocate for change.