Today (14 April) the London Assembly Health Committee has released a report on maternal health and care in London, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responding to the report, Birthrights co-Chief Executives Janaki Mahadevan and Shanthi Gunesekera said:
‘Maternity care through the COVID-19 pandemic was a traumatic experience for too many women and birthing people. Ill-prepared hospital infrastructure, restrictions to services, and birth partners not permitted on antenatal wards and in routine appointments, left women and birthing people isolated and unheard.
‘We know from our race inquiry that Black and Brown women and birthing people, who already face stark inequalities in maternal experience and outcomes, were disproportionately affected by blanket decisions about the provision of maternity care and often left without the means to make informed decisions about their care.
‘Shamefully, three years on from the first lockdown there is little evidence that lessons have been learnt. Some Trusts are still making blanket decisions in response to staff shortages and lack of investment in the NHS.
‘Rights-respecting care cannot be delivered without sufficient and meaningful investment in maternity services. It is vital that government listens to the voices of those on the frontline. Women and birthing people must be confident they will be offered safe maternity care that fully respects their right to bodily autonomy, self-agency, and accepts their lived experience – even in times of crisis.’
Watch Birthrights give evidence to the London Assembly
Birthrights is the UK charity that champions respectful maternity care by protecting human rights. We provide advice and legal information to women and birthing people, train healthcare professionals to deliver rights-respecting care and campaign to change maternity policy and systems.