The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) responds to the latest MBRRACE-UK Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care 2022 report released today, which looks into the care of women who died during or up to one year after pregnancy between 2018 and 2020 in the UK.
Dr Ranee Thakar, President-Elect of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “The results of today’s report are worrying, especially the increase in maternal deaths and the increasing impact mental ill health has on mortality rates. Eighty-six percent of women died in the postnatal period. The report highlighting that actions to improve outcomes need to be focused on postnatal care and holistic support in the first year after birth, as well as during pregnancy.
“It is also clear from the report that disparities in society have a clear impact on the likelihood of mortality, with those from more deprived areas being twice as likely to die as women in the wealthiest areas, and only a small decrease in the higher risk of maternal mortality for Black and Asian women compared with their white counterparts.
“The RCOG is one of over 200 other member organisations of the Inequalities in Health Alliance calling for a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities that considers the role of every department and every available policy lever in tackling health disparities. We would also like to see the Maternity Disparities Taskforce and the Women’s Health Strategy make visible, funded and strong connections with other relevant Government departments as they work to address inequities in women’s health.
“Recognising inequalities is a first step to understanding and challenging the social, economic and political contexts that inform the way we all live our lives and the health choices we make, and we continue to call on the UK Government to commit to a time specific target to reduce maternal inequities to drive urgent innovation, improvement and investment.”
Work of RCOG:
- Through the RCOG’s Race Equality Taskforce, we are striving to ensure racism and bias is eliminated within obstetrics and gynaecology. We have worked with Five X More to publish Five Steps for Healthcare Professionals, developed an eLearning cultural competency tutorial which now forms part of RCOG members’ continuing professional development, and lead several relevant research projects such as the COVID Maternity Equality Project.
- The Tommy's National Centre for Maternity Improvement, led jointly by RCOG and RCM, is creating a digital tool that will help healthcare providers work out which pregnant women are most at risk of giving birth prematurely or of developing pregnancy complications that can lead to stillbirth. The tool will also enable pregnant women to become more engaged in their own care.