The end of 2021 saw the publication of a key report into racial inequality within maternal healthcare.

In November last year, the latest report by MBRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) was published with their data suggesting women from ethnic minorities continue to be more likely to suffer an adverse outcome in pregnancy and childbirth in comparison to their white counterparts.

Specifically, Black women were found to be four times more likely to die, whilst maternal mortality amongst mixed race and Asian women was also found to be two times and almost two times higher, respectively.

Heart disease, epilepsy and stroke were the leading causes of maternal death during or up to six weeks after the end of pregnancy. Meanwhile, sepsis and thrombosis and blood clots are the third and fourth most common causes.   

The findings have once again brought attention to the issue of racial inequality within maternal healthcare, with calls being made for more to be done to tackle this.

Whilst the overall risk of maternal mortality in the UK is reassuringly small, the discrepancies in outcome between different races is both shocking and significant.

Amy Gibbs, the Chief Executive of Birthrights, a UK charity that champions respectful maternity care by protecting human rights, described the MBRACE report as painting a “bleak picture.” 

Whilst the report does not address why there is such a significant difference in outcomes, Birthrights are carrying out an inquiry into how racial bias and systemic racism impacts on maternity outcome and experiences. To date, the charity has received multiple reports of mothers from ethnic minority backgrounds feeling unsafe, their concerns being ignored or dismissed, denial of pain relief due to racial stereotypes, and pervasive microaggressions causing harm or distress. Their testimony has been backed up by healthcare professionals.

Alongside this, an All-Party Parliamentary Group has been set up to raise awareness of the issue of racial disparities within maternal healthcare and offer solutions to end this.

Wirral Globe: Roneeta Sait, a solicitor within the Clinical Negligence DepartmentRoneeta Sait, a solicitor within the Clinical Negligence Department (Image: Roneeta Sait, Associate Director and Clinical Negligence Solicitor)

Jackson Lees has successfully represented many women from minority backgrounds who have fallen victim to negligent care, including within maternity units.

Roneeta Sait, a solicitor within the Clinical Negligence Department, explains: “A problem commonly experienced by the clients that we have represented, in addition to those which have been identified by Birthrights, is where medical staff fail to appropriately respond to language and cultural barriers, meaning that patients who do not speak English as a first language are left unable to effectively communicate with, or understand their care and treatment providers, leaving them in dangerous and vulnerable situations, particularly when complications arise.

“We strongly feel that it is the responsibility of medical staff to identify where language and cultural boundaries may be problematic and identify an appropriate strategy for management of this at an early stage.”

Our firm considers itself leaders in the fight for justice and equality. We have represented hundreds of clients from black and minority backgrounds, whether this be within our Clinical Negligence Department or in other departments such as discrimination, immigration and dating back to work that the firm conducted in the 1980s representing Black families in the wake of the Toxteth uprising.

Our clients can expect a high standard of client care, including, where needed, the assistance of translators or intermediaries to ensure that they are fully supported through the legal process.

If you or a loved one has been affected by substandard medical treatment, you may be able to claim medical negligence compensation to help you move on from this mistake and put your life back together.

For a free consultation with one of our legal team call us on 0808 159 8144 or email or visit our website