You are currently using an unsupported browser which could affect the appearance and functionality of this website. Please consider upgrading to the latest version or using alternatives such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

RCOG responds to reports that the Health Disparities White Paper has been scrapped

30 Sept 2022

Today, the Guardian reported that the health secretary has scrapped the Government's white paper on health inequalities. 

In response to the news, Dr Eddie Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and co-chair of the RCOG Race Equality Taskforce, said:

"We are extremely worried to hear that the UK Government is considering turning its back on this commitment to tackle unacceptable health inequalities through the promised White Paper. This decision, if taken, will completely undermine the commitment to tackling disparities in the Women’s Health Strategy for England. It will also halt the momentum from the newly created Maternity Disparities Taskforce to end the stark disparities in maternal outcomes that continue to persist.

"We have always been clear that a life-course approach to improving women’s health includes addressing wider social determinants of health, which this white paper could recognise and address. When life expectancy for women living in the most deprived areas in England is eight years shorter than for those in the least deprived, where is the sense of urgency?1

"Recent research has attributed 12% of stillbirths in England to ethnic inequality and 24% of stillbirths to socioeconomic inequality.2 A turn away from addressing health disparities will challenge the stated UK Government ambition to halve rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths by 2025. The timing could not be worse, we are barely post-pandemic and are now faced with a cost of living crisis.

"As members of the Inequalities in Health Alliance we have written to Thérèse Coffey to stress that without a cross-government focus on these issues, the DHSC and NHS will be left in the ultimately unsustainable position of trying to treat illness created by the environments people live in.

"We urge the UK Government to maintain the commitment to publishing the Health Disparities White Paper by the end of this year."


For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7740 175342 or email



Notes to Editors

  • Read the Inequalities in Health Alliance's letter to the health Secretary here
  • Policy and governance
  • Pregnancy and birth