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Health Services: Disadvantaged

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 61217, tabled on 22 October 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) reduce inequalities in healthcare and (b) prevent the avoidable death of Asian and Asian British babies.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

9 November 2021

The NHS Long Term Plan (2019) sets out a systematic approach to reducing health inequalities and addressing unwarranted variation in care by targeting a higher share of funding towards geographies with high health inequalities than would have been allocated using solely the core needs formulae. As a condition of receiving Long Term Plan funding, all major national programmes and every local area across England is required to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms by which they will contribute to narrowing health inequalities by 2029.

On 1 October, we launched the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. Reducing health disparities is one of the core aims of the office and it will set out its plans for delivering on this objective in due course

To improve equity for mothers and babies from Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups, NHS England and NHS Improvement published ‘Equity and Equality: Guidance for Local Maternity Systems’ on 6 September, which can be found at the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/equity-and-equality-guidance-for-local-maternity-systems/

This guidance asks Local Maternity Systems (LMS) to produce an equity and equality analysis (covering health outcomes, community assets and staff experience) by 30 November 2021; and to co-produce an action plan to improve equity for mothers and babies from minority ethnic and other backgrounds, and race equality for NHS maternity staff by 28 February 2022. The guidance is supported by a £6.8 million investment.

LMS are being asked to include four interventions to prevent avoidable deaths of babies in their action plans: (1) targeted and enhanced continuity of carer with 75% of women from Black, Asian and Mixed ethic groups receiving continuity of carer by 2024 and additional midwifery time to support women from the most deprived areas, (2) smoke-free pregnancy pathways for mothers and their partners, (3) breastfeeding strategies to improve breastfeeding rates for women living in the most deprived areas, and (4) culturally-sensitive genetics services for consanguineous couples. The guidance is supported by a £6.8 million investment, which will support Local Maternity Systems to implement Equity and Equality Action Plans and implement targeted and enhanced Continuity of Carer.

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