Harriet Harman is leading the Labour Party’s calls for the government to set in stone a target to reduce black maternal deaths in the UK.
In a landmark debate held in parliament on Monday, April 19, Labour called for the government to commit to tackle the shocking disparity.
Harman, the Camberwell and Peckham MP, has long advocated for change, highlighting shocking figures that show that black women are more than four times more likely to die during pregnancy, labour or soon after childbirth in the UK.
She said it was ‘no good just wringing hands’ about the issue and that the government needed to set milestones for how it could meet a target of closing the gap.
She has called on the government to publish clear and consistent data both nationally and regionally, set a clear target with annual milestones, and to cut health and income equalities.
Previously, through the human rights committee she jointly chairs, Harman has highlighted how 78 per cent of black women believe the care they have been given by the NHS was not equal.
The debate was brought forward after a petition gained nearly 190,000 signatures. In the House of Commons, Harman told MPs her constituency accounted for the second highest number of supporters.
“It is particularly tragic when a new mother dies,” Harman said in her speech.
“She will die early in life, leaving behind a newborn or other children. Everyone in maternity services wants maternity care to be a properly resourced and highly professional team.
“A black woman is four or five times more likely than a white woman to die during childbirth or shortly thereafter, and nobody wants that to be the case. It is a dreadful situation and it must be addressed.”