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National speakers lined up for maternity event focusing on inequalities

A virtual event on Thursday 3 March, being led by the Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership, will bring national experts to our district as part of efforts to address inequalities affecting maternity care.

It was announced earlier this that the Government is setting up a new maternity taskforce to tackle disparities in maternity care experienced by women belonging to ethnic minorities and those living in deprived areas.

Locally it has been recognised by health and care professionals that more needs to be done to support women who are planning for a child, are currently expecting a child or have recently given birth. This has been highlighted as a priority area by the health and care partnership’s Act as One Better Births programme following a maternity safety conference held in September 2021 and reflects the national approach.

Speakers at the event include leading academic Zahra Khan, who last year authored a paper in the British Journal of Midwifery on ‘Ethnic health inequalities in the UK’s maternity services’. Joining Zahra will be Sandra Igwe and Melissa Brown who have played a key role in the Birth Rights Inquiry that highlighted evidence showing that Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity women and birthing people are more likely to die, experience baby loss, become seriously unwell and have worse experiences of care during pregnancy and childbirth, compared to those who are white.

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Also speaking at the event is Sheena Byrom OBE. Sheena is a registered midwife and author of bestselling memoirs ‘Catching Babies’ and co-author of ‘The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care’ with Professor Soo Downe OBE.

Local speakers include Josie Dickerson from Born in Bradford who is the Director of of the Better Start Bradford Innovation Hub and Bradford Inequalities Research Unit and Polly Mason and Ruth Shaw who will cover the work of the nationally recognized Reducing Inequalities in Communities (RIC) programme.

Amanda Stanford, Chief Nurse at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and Senior Responsible Officer for the Act as One Better Births Programme, will be chairing the event. She said: “National evidence and studies suggest that Black women are 40% more likely to miscarry than white women. Maternal death rates are also higher among black and Asian mothers. We also know that women living in areas described as deprived are more likely to lose their child.

This is why we must take action now and why we are following up from our previous event in September as all our partners agree this has to be the focus for our work. We really want to lead on improving care for women and their families from pre-conception through to the years immediately after birth. This week has seen the proposed launch of a national taskforce, we are already ahead of the curve as we have made a firm commitment to reduce the gaps in inequalities that lead to poorer outcomes for mums and their babies.

We’re delighted to welcome inspirational national colleagues, this will be a real opportunity for us to learn and implement changes working alongside local women and using their lived experience to shape the way we improve care as a health and care partnership. We also hope they will learn more about the work we’re doing locally that could help others across the country.”

Additional Information

Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership (Act as One)

Act as One describes our approach for our health and care partnership for Bradford District and Craven that serves a population of around 650,000 people with a health and care workforce of around 33,000 supported by over 5,000 voluntary and community sector organisations. The partnership is made up of NHS, local authority, Healthwatch, community and voluntary sector organisations and independent care providers working towards a vision of people being ‘happy, healthy at home’.

Reducing Inequalities in Communities (RIC) programme

Across Bradford district and Craven, there are significant health inequalities in communities and the gap in how long people will live is stark. People in the most deprived areas of our district are living with more ill health and dying earlier.

Our Reducing Inequalities in Communities (RIC) programme is a movement of people and projects who are working together to reduce health inequalities and close the health gap in central Bradford; so everyone can live healthier, happier and longer lives.

Born in Bradford

Born in Bradford is one of the largest research studies in the World, tracking the lives of over 30,000 Bradfordians to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families. We use our findings to develop new and practical ways to work with families and health professionals to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.

Bradford Inequalities Research Unit (BIRU)

The RIC programme has commissioned the Bradford Inequalities Research Unit (BIRU) to support the design and delivery of the Programme. The BIRU is a collaboration between Born in Bradford (BiB), NHS Bradford District and Craven CCG and the University of York. The BIRU has access to large individual level data through Connected Health Cities and the BiB birth cohorts that will enable in-depth evaluation of the health and economic impact of individual interventions across different services and organisations as well as the cumulative effect of multiple interventions.