‘We’re not here to point fingers and blame anyone’: Commission to investigate inequality in maternity care under way

Southwark council’s Maternity Commission is forging ahead to investigate the experiences women have with maternity care services after a national report published last year revealed stark inequalities in maternity care.

Having launched in January, the commission hosted an open discussion between frontline maternity care professionals at the Rye Oak Children’s and Family Centre, Whorlton Road, Peckham, yesterday.

During the meeting, Healthcare professionals from various stakeholders, including the Breastfeeding Network, Parent Action, King’s College Hospital, Evelina London Children’s Hospital and the Nexus Princess Street Group, shared their positive and negative experiences in providing maternity care. 

The meeting covered the effectiveness of internal reporting structures to address inequalities, the availability of training opportunities to tackle maternity care disparities and how the council can better support outcomes.

A council spokeswoman said these insights will help the commission understand the challenges and “explore tangible improvements” in care delivery and outcomes.

The council are currently running a public consultation as part of the Commission.

Councillor Evelyn Akoto, founder of the Southwark Maternity Commission, said: “To bring about the changes we aspire to see in maternity care, we must engage in honest and transparent conversations about service delivery.

“We’re not here to point fingers and blame anyone. We are here to listen and receive insights that will inform our goal to ensure every woman is supported and respected throughout their maternity journey”.

The commission follows a national report last year which showed 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.

The next public meeting takes place on April 17, and will platform the voices of people who have recently used local maternity care services. The meeting will take place at the same locations and bookings can be made here.

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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