New maternity pledges set out by NHS England

The NHS has released new guidance on improving equality of outcomes in maternity settings.  

The new guidance has two specific targets regarding maternity care which are below:

  • To improve equity for mothers and babies from Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups and those living in the most deprived areas 
  • To improve equality in experience for staff from minority ethnic groups 

There are new pledges to achieve these targets, which have been created with consultation with Maternity Voices Partnerships, staff, royal colleges, arm’s length bodies, government, and the VCSE sector.  

The first pledge is that the NHS will take action to improve equity for mothers and babies and race equality for NHS staff. This pledge will be made up of five prongs, that will see more action taken to address inequalities in maternity care.  

The five actions are as follows:

  1. Understand your population and co-produce action plans 
  2. Take action on maternal mortality, morbidity and experience 
  3. Take action on perinatal mortality and morbidity 
  4. Support maternity and neonatal staff 
  5. Create the conditions to achieve equity (enablers) 

The second pledge is that local maternity systems will set out plans to improve equity and equality. Local maternity systems are expected to submit an equity and equality analysis, that covers health outcomes, staff experience, and community assets, by 30 of November 2021. 

By 28 February 2022, local maternity systems are expected to have their own Equity and Equality Action Plans on how to improve equality in their maternity services. 

Local maternity services will receive £6.8m in funding to help produce their Equity and Equality Action Plans and will receive support from local Integrated Care Systems.  

The final pledge will see the NHS measure the progress and other actions taken to improve the quality of care.  

Recently the government announced a new body to tackle health inequities.