Councillor hits out at birth trauma report for lack of attention on race

A councillor who is leading a maternity commission into the stark inequalities in maternity care has hit out at the trauma inquiry for its lack of attention on the experience of black women.

Last week the report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Birth Trauma called for an overhaul of the UK’s maternity and postnatal care after finding poor care is “all-too-frequently tolerated as normal”. 

The inquiry heard harrowing evidence from more than 1,300 women. Experiences included women who said they were left in blood-soaked sheets while others said their children had suffered life-changing injuries due to medical negligence.

In the report, women complained they were not listened to when they felt something was wrong, were mocked or shouted at and denied basic needs such as pain relief.

Southwark councillor Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for health and well-being, said she welcomed the report but that it had been “a long time in the making”.

Speaking to the South London Press, Cllr Akoto said: “The report shows that there is a groundswell of frustration against services.

“But the issue of maternity care has been long in the making – reports after reports have highlighted concerning issues, but yet again we are not seeing improvements.

“It’s shocking that more than a third of the budget for maternity is spent on compensation.”

In January, Southwark council established its maternity commission after a national report published last year revealed 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.

Last week’s birth trauma report highlights inequality, but only as the 11th recommendation out of 12.

(Picture: Büşranur Aydın, Pexels)

Cllr Akoto said: “It was very sad to read through the report and see it so low down in the recommendations.

“It’s not given the prominence it needs. We don’t have enough black voices high up contributing to this.

“The report described a postcode lottery of care depending on where you live. I agree with this but if we standardise good quality care without grappling with inequality there will still be a postcode lottery for race.”

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

The council’s maternity commission features a series of panel meetings and face-to-face and online listening exercises for residents to share experiences of maternity care.

So far, Cllr Akoto said, more than 200 people have shared their experiences with the commission through its various meetings. The next meeting is set to be held on June 11.

Cllr Akoto said: “We are also holding an extra meeting for men next month after we received a number of reports saying they have been left traumatised by their partners experience and feel they have nowhere to go.

“If anyone wants to get involved or contribute please get in touch.”

Theo Clarke MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Birth Trauma, said: “I am saddened that councillor Akoto feels this way but I absolutely do not share her view this has not been covered enough in the report.

“Addressing inequality is one of the 12 recommendations in the report. All the recommendations we make are of equal importance.

“The issue of inequality is in the executive summary of the report and there is a chapter devoted to it. We took evidence from several experts both in person and written during the inquiry on this exact subject and heard testimony from women about their experiences in maternity units, including incidents of racism.”

To visit the consultation visit:

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)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.