We are pleased that the MBRRACE-UK report: Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care has finally been published today. The findings – yet again exposing serious racial inequalities in maternal deaths – are a stark reminder of the urgent need to share the lessons learned from these tragedies, to improve care and save lives.
On 26 November, Birthrights challenged the decision not to release the report due to pre-election ‘purdah’ rules and last week we wrote again to NHS England, stating that we would not pursue judicial review further if we received a guarantee that the report would be published on 13 December at the latest.
Earlier this week, we received confirmation that the report would be released today. This was a significant shift from previous public statements that it could not be published “until a new government is formed which will be on the 13th December at the earliest.” We were concerned the report could be further delayed in the uncertainties and backlog following the election, even until after Christmas.
We maintain that ‘purdah’ rules should never have been applied to this independent, impartial report. The findings published today show the clear need to disseminate the lessons learned from maternal deaths without delay, with black women still five times more likely to die as a result of complications in their pregnancy than white women. For women of mixed ethnicity the risk is threefold and for Asian women it is double.
Older women and women living in deprived areas also have higher maternal death rates. The report’s call to action is for better joined up care, to prevent vulnerable women from falling through the cracks in services and between systems.
We are grateful to everyone who has supported Birthrights’ legal action from across the maternity world. Now the findings can be widely disseminated, we look forward to working with partners, including NHS England, to understand and urgently address the inequalities exposed in the report.