While pregnancy in the UK is generally very safe, outcomes for women using maternity services are not equal. The National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit’s MBBRACE report monitors maternal deaths during and up to 6 weeks after pregnancy. It reports that black women are 4 times more likely to die than white women and that women of mixed ethnicity and Asian women are both 2 times more likely to die than white women. Women who live in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to die compared with those in the least deprived areas.
Women, birthing people and families’ experience of maternity services may affect the level of trust they have in NHS/health services in general, which could have implications for the level of health inequalities in the future.
To play their part in reducing inequalities, Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVPs) need to include and listen well to women, birthing people and families from those backgrounds which tend to experience poorer outcomes, including black, Asian and ethnic minority women and women from deprived areas. To ensure this is the case, there are things you can do right from the start when you’re setting up your MVP. We have highlighted throughout this Toolkit those actions that can contribute to the MVP being accessible, inclusive and that can enable the MVP to help reduce these disparities in maternity outcomes.