• Tuesday, May 28, 2024


NHS observatory launches new initiative to address disparities

New learning network to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes

Prof Habib Naqvi, chief executive, NHS Race & Health Observatory, Kate Brintworth, chief midwifery officer, NHS England, Marie Gabriel, chair, NHS Race & Health Observatory along with others during the launch event (Photo: James Gifford-Mead)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE NHS Race and Health Observatory on Wednesday (24) launched a learning and action network designed to address stark disparities in maternal, perinatal and neonatal health outcomes for women from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Data shows alarmingly higher rates of maternal and baby deaths amongst black and Asian women compared to their white counterparts.

Black British mothers face up to four times higher risks of death during pregnancy or within six weeks post-childbirth compared to their white counterparts. Mothers of mixed ethnicity experience a threefold increase in the risk of pregnancy-related mortality, while women of Asian ethnicity face a twofold higher risk than White mothers.

The programme, in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and supported by the Health Foundation,will study the gaps seen in severe maternal morbidity, perinatal mortality and neonatal morbidity between women of different ethnic groups, and will run until June 2025.

Nine NHS trusts and integrated care systems will participate in the initiative across England, a statement said.

The Network will blend quality improvement and anti-racism principles to bring about clinical transformation and promote system-wide change.

Through action, learning, and coaching sessions, participants will utilise quality improvement methods, examine policies, processes, and workforce metrics, exchange insights and case studies, and listen to experiences of mothers, parents, pregnant women, and others.

Prof Habib Naqvi, chief executive, NHS Race and Health Observatory, said, “It’s clear that long-standing racial disparities in maternal and neonatal health outcomes require urgent action. The mission of the Observatory is not just to highlight the scale of disparities, but to also provide practical, evidence-based solutions to those challenges.

“That’s why we’ll be working alongside healthcare providers, from across the country, to make practical progress in addressing these inequalities in a sustained and meaningful way.”

Priority areas under the programme are haemorrhage, preterm birth, post-partum depression and gestational diabetes. It will create a new equitable policy recommendations for maternity providers and build a repository of best practice for potential replication across the country, the statement added.

Pedro Delgado, vice president, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said, “The aspiration is to accelerate the pace of improvement, partner closely with mothers and families, foster collaboration across the system and use the intensive learning with these teams to inform approaches to scale up and spread impactful changes over time that will reduce harm, suffering, and improve outcomes”.

Dr Malte Gerhold, director of Innovation and Improvement at the Health Foundation, emphasised the importance of successful quality improvement in healthcare.

He stressed the critical aspect of ensuring that improvement efforts benefit everyone, particularly those facing poorer outcomes, access, or quality.

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