A campaign group has launched ‘I am here to listen’ badges in partnership with a South London hospital to improve care for pregnant black women.
The South London based grassroots organisation Five X More has started their badge and training scheme at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in Lambeth.
Healthcare staff will attend a training where they will learn how to take active steps to improve care for black women who are pregnant or giving birth.
Staff will then be given a badge to wear, which has the Five X More hand symbol and reads ‘I am here to listen’.
Five X More co-founder Clo Abe said: “It’s a way of telling women – black women especially – you can trust the support workers and you can trust the health professionals. They are here for you.”
Nina Khazaezadeh, interim head of midwifery at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are proud to support the Five X More campaign in our maternity department and to be selected as the first site for this pilot project. Our staff will be trained to champion the five steps for healthcare professionals developed by Five X More and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
“We acknowledge that every woman’s circumstances and experiences are equally important, and are committed to improving the health outcomes for Black, Asian and minority ethnic pregnant women.”
The rate of black women dying during pregnancy in the UK in 2020 was four times higher than white women, says research by MBRRACE UK.
In 2019 and 2018 the rate was five times higher – which is where the name of the organisation comes from.
Ms Abe, who is from Kennington, said: “It’s not right we’re four times more likely to die and we only account for 4% of births in the UK. It just doesn’t make sense.
“We want black women to have better outcomes.”
During the training, healthcare staff will be taught the Five X More principles for mothers, healthcare professionals and partners.
The principles for mothers include speak up, seek a second opinion and trust your gut feeling, while principles for healthcare professionals include listen, check you are providing clear information and be a champion.
Staff will also be taught how preconceived ideas of black women could affect patient care.
Ms Abe said: “There are stereotypes and myths that people believe, like black women are strong or black women don’t feel pain. Those will all be part of the training.”
Five X More was formed in 2019 by Ms Abe and Tinuke Awe.
Ms Abe runs social enterprise Prosperitys which supports Black, Asian and ethnic minority women who are pregnant.
Ms Awe, who is from Greenwich, runs an online platform about motherhood called Mums and Tea.
Ms Abe said: “Tinuke approached me because she had a really traumatic first experience of giving birth to her son. Because she runs Mums and Tea she heard other women who were going through the same thing and thought that this is not good enough.”
She suggested they team up to see what they could do about the issue.
Ms Abe said: “It was supposed to be a little event and then we ended up building the whole organisation. So far we have done so well, to be honest.”
The organisation launched a government petition to improve the mortality rates and healthcare for black women in the UK, which more than 187,000 signatures.
It was debated in parliament on April 19.
Nadine Doris, Minister of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety mentioned in her response to the petition debate that Black women are underrepresented in the data they have received so far.
In response to this, Five X More launched the Black Maternity Experience Survey to fill this data gap, which received 500 responses in the first day.
Ms Abe said: “Through the survey we’re going to see what the themes are and write recommendations and take it to the top.”
Pictured top: Laura Bridle, a Trainee Consultant Midwife in public health at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, wears the I am here to listen badge
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