Are minority communities neglected by maternity services?

Having attended the Trust’s annual general meeting this week, it is clear that one of Donna Ockenden’s key considerations moving forward is that all women and all families who've received negligent maternity care have a voice – her call is for one of inclusivity.

This is the reason for the change in the approach to the review - as families’ cases are now being included in the review as standard, and if families do not want their case to be considered, they must specifically opt out.This comes after statistics show that families of minority backgrounds in particular are not receiving the same care as others.

A highly concerning annual maternity negligence report for the UK

A report, called the MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) Report, which is the annual investigation into the deaths of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the year after birth across the UK, has shown highly concerning statistics. The 2022 report showed that the number of women who were harmed is significantly higher in cases where the women have come from either in minority communities or poverty. To highlight only one example, statistics show that black women are 3.7 times more likely and Asian women almost two times more likely to die during the perinatal period.

The MBRRACE-UK Report has already called for a multi-agency targeted approach to improve these figures. However, it appears that it is only now that Donna Ockenden is carrying out her review in the maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) that these issues are being considered in relation to maternity care in Nottingham.

During the general meeting this week, Donna Ockenden noted that they have held two separate learning and improvement meetings to consider these issues, and that the concerns were so great following this that she has specifically written to the Chief Executive of NUH to discuss this. She noted that it should not have taken the review to listen to local women and implement these changes within the trust.

Ms Ockenden is now confident that changes will be made, however it is as important as ever that all women and families who have been affected have a chance to voice their experiences in order to ensure real change is made.

Katy Barnett, solicitor within the Clinical Negligence team at Freeths, has stated: 

“It is highly concerning that such important changes have required a formal review in order to be implemented. We now hope that all of the women and families who have been affected will be able to put forward their experiences to ensure that real change takes place. Nottingham is a wonderfully diverse city and it holds one of the largest maternity units in the UK, so it is vital that members of all of its communities are heard to ensure that all of the service users’ needs are met moving forwards.”

About our maternity negligence expertise

As clinical negligence lawyers we have been contacted and represent a number of families and children who have suffered or have lost loved ones as a result of negligent maternity care during labour and birth. These claims seek to ensure that any child who has suffered a preventable injury can access the services they require such as care, therapy, aids and equipment, and suitably adapted accommodation which may assist them during their lives. For those who have sadly suffered loss we can help to secure support and therapy to help those suffering to come to terms with these devastating events. We can also help secure an apology from the Trust responsible and seek to ensure the same mistakes are not made again.

If you or a loved one have similar concerns regarding maternity services, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential discussion. For further information please also visit our Clinical Negligence page.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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