Maternity taskforce welcome but government must do more to invest in the workforce

23 February 2022

Commenting on the Department of Health and Social Care's (DHSC) announcement of a new taskforce to level-up maternity care and tackle disparities, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"Trust leaders will strongly welcome this new Maternity Disparities Taskforce to tackle the inequalities underlying maternity care and identify how outcomes can be improved for women from ethnic minority and deprived communities.

"Health inequalities are a key priority for trusts, and tackling health inequalities – both in terms of equitable access to health services and avoidable differences in people's health outcomes – is a central organising principle for the NHS, particularly as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A continued focus on these issues is invaluable as we seek to make ongoing improvements to maternity services.

"It is good to hear the minister for patient safety and primary care report today on the progress being made with work to improve safe and equitable outcomes for women and families using maternity services. But more progress is needed to address disparities in health outcomes and experience of care.

"Maternity services face an array of challenges, including a significant increase in the complexity of cases and worrying workforce gaps across midwifery and obstetric teams.

"It is therefore vital that the government and national bodies do more to invest in the maternity workforce.

"Trust leaders and their teams will welcome the opportunity to work with the taskforce to better understand the drivers behind disparities, and to examine the social factors linked to poorer health outcomes so that they can do more to improve the health and wellbeing of women and their babies."