Commission launched to investigate stark inequality in maternity care

Southwark council has established a maternity commission after a national report published last year revealed stark inequalities in maternity care.

The report shows that women from black ethnic groups were four times more likely to die in pregnancy than those from white groups, and women from Asian ethnic backgrounds almost twice as likely.

Southwark is one of the most diverse boroughs in the country, with 40 per cent of its population born outside the UK.

The commission will feature a series of panel meetings and face-to-face and online listening exercises for residents to share experiences of maternity care. It aims to raise awareness about having a safe pregnancy and birth and improve services to reduce existing inequalities.

The panel, chaired by Councillor Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for health and well-being, and co-chaired by Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, met publicly for the first time on Tuesday at Southwark council’s office in Tooley Street. 

The meeting introduced the commission and heard from three key maternity providers. 

Councillor Akoto said: “The statistics on black women’s risks when giving birth in this country, in this period of time, are shocking. 

“We want to know why. We want to hear about the experiences of people who feel let down when they were most vulnerable and what we can do to make services better in Southwark and beyond. 

“By addressing the inequalities gap this will ultimately improve services for all.”

Pictured top: From left, panel members Cheryl Rhodes, Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, Omar Campbell, Jacqui Kempen, Sandra Igwe, Cllr Evelyn Akoto and Dr Benedicta Agbagwara-Osuji, at the commission’s first meeting on Tuesday (Picture: Southwark council)

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