This project is under way, and will run until March 2022.

  • Led by Queen Mary University of London, in partnership with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Caribbean and African Health Network, and the University of Bristol.
  • Research into whether changes in how maternity care has been delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic have widened or narrowed existing inequalities.
  • Will use routinely collected data on maternity care to identify changes in outcomes for women and babies during the pandemic.

There are significant inequalities in maternity care and outcomes in England. Black women are five times and Asian women are three times more likely to die than white women during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been substantial shifts in the way that maternity care is delivered. Care provision has had to be modified and maternity units have faced staffing shortages. The effects of these changes on maternity outcomes have not yet been measured, and it is unclear whether these changes have widened or narrowed existing inequalities.

This research project will use data that is routinely collected during the course of maternity care to identify changes to outcomes for women and babies during the pandemic, and whether these were related to particular changes in maternity services offered.

The study will then identify any maternity units where changes in practice during the pandemic narrowed existing gaps in outcomes between women from different ethnic groups, or units where the impact on existing inequalities was as small as possible.

The results of the project will be used to identify priorities for restoration of services, with the aim that inequalities in maternity care that existed prior to the pandemic may be mitigated as part of the evolution towards a ‘new normal’.

Recommendations will be provided on how the quality and safety of maternity care can be improved, and how it can ensure that all women, irrespective of their background or place of residence, have access to safe maternity care.

Contact

For more information about this project, please contact Stamatina Iliodromiti, Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London.

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