Released on: 14 January 2021
NCT's response to the MBRRACE-UK: Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care report published today.
It’s disappointing to read that the rate of decrease in maternal mortality has slowed and is almost static in the years leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This latest report from MBRRACE-UK highlights a constellation of biases that again shows that our health and social care system does not work well for women with multiple and complex problems. Women living in the most deprived areas are three times more likely to die than those who live in the most affluent areas, demonstrating the need for broader action across community and public health, in addition to maternity services. Maternal suicide remains the leading cause of deaths occurring within a year after the end of pregnancy. The importance of universal postnatal mental health checks for new mums is once again highlighted.
The higher mortality rates among Black, Asian and ethnic minority women continue to be totally unacceptable. The growing attention and action on this issue is vital and continuing concerted effort is needed to end these disparities and ensure high quality care for all women through pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. We will be supporting the work of the racial equality taskforce launched by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2020, in addition to inclusion, community and partnership work to help bring about better experiences and more equitable outcomes.
In the years covered by this report, a major finding was the low proportion of women who were provided with suitable medication during pregnancy. In particular, many women with epilepsy ceased to take their medicines, sometimes due to inappropriate advice from a health professional, and sadly there were deaths because of this. It’s distressing to read about these avoidable deaths and we have been working with the MHRA since 2018 to improve knowledge of safe drugs in pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
We’d like to recognise the important contribution that MBRRACE-UK reporting makes to the promotion of quality improvements in care. It is essential that the learning and recommendations translate into action to ensure quality of care for all women. This is more important than ever, given the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that is likely to have amplified many of the issues raised.