An inquiry looking at NHS maternity racism allegations has been launched following several high-profile research studies and testimonies revealing reported inherent bias in prenatal care.
It comes after a study published in January reportedly revealed the stark racial disparity in maternity care, with MBRRACE-UK finding that black women can be four times more likely to die in childbirth and pregnancy than white women. Further, women from Asian ethnic backgrounds can reportedly be subjected to twice the risk as well, and the risk of fatalities is said to be accompanied by poorer experiences when it comes to prenatal care also.
As specialists in medical negligence, it is worrying for us to hear that systemic racism could be unfairly affecting the standard of care in our health service. We believe healthcare injustices are wrong in any form and that, as this is not the first time the issue has been raised, the NHS must act quickly to review the alleged racial disparity in maternity care.
Concerns raised by statistics and women’s experiences
The investigation, as reported by The Guardian, is set to conduct more research within the NHS to assess the issues raised, and is also receiving support from childbirth charity Birthrights. The recent MBRRACE-UK study is not the first to bring NHS maternity racism allegations to the fore: research released in 2013 reportedly revealed that ethnic minority women had worse experiences of maternity care, being more likely to undergo a caesarean section, and less likely to receive pain relief while giving birth.
MBRRACE-UK research from 2018 reportedly found that there were higher instances of baby loss among these women also.
According to the barrister leading the inquiry, the investigators are looking to find the stories behind the statistics. It is unclear yet what the discrimination consists of, as it may resemble unconscious bias in some cases or explicit racism in others.
Acting on NHS maternity racism allegations
Given the statistics and the widespread NHS maternity racism allegations, it is likely that many pregnant women from minority ethnic groups feel that their health and that of their babies is at risk. Anyone who feels that they have received poorer treatment as a result of potential racial bias may be able to make a medical negligence claim.
All that we need to do as lawyers is to make a link between a decline in your health or that of your baby and any poor treatment that you might have received.
In the case of alleged racial bias, it may be that you feel your complaints of pain or possible irregularities in your pregnancy were not properly listened to, investigated, or treated. If this happened during childbirth itself, you or your baby may have sustained significant injuries or been put in unnecessary danger. All such complaints can be valid and warrant investigation by medical negligence specialists like us.
Advocates for mistreated patients
At The Injury Lawyers, we are strong advocates for helping mistreated patients, which is why we want to see a thorough investigation of the NHS maternity racism allegations to ensure that any unfair and dangerous biases are stamped out. If the inquiry finds that systemic racism is at play, it may take a lot of work and significant changes to tackle the problem at its root.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.