NHS England has said that pregnant women from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds should be fast-tracked to hospital because of their increased risk of coronavirus.
Recent analysis has shown that black pregnant women are eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19, while Asian women are four times as likely.
Highlighting the problem, recent research from Oxford University shows that 55 per cent of the pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are from a BAME background, even though they only make up a quarter of the births in England and Wales.
In an attempt to tackle the crisis faced by expectant black and minority ethnic mothers during the coronavirus outbreak, the NHS is providing additional support for women of these backgrounds.
England's most senior midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, has written to all maternity units in the country calling on them to take specific actions which will reduce the additional risk of COVID-19 for BAME women and their newborns.
Image credit: Parents
Discussing the steps that NHS staff should now follow, Dunkley-Bent, said: "We know that pregnant women from a BAME background are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 compared to white women, which is why we're helping midwives take sensible extra steps to protect mum and baby".
Advice to follow by NHS staff includes reaching out and reassuring pregnant BAME women with tailored communications, ensuring hospitals sufficiently discuss vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy with all women (particularly with women who have darker skin and those who always cover their skin when outside who are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency), and ensuring all providers record on maternity information systems the ethnicity of every woman, including risk factors (such as BMI, age, and whether they live in a deprived area).
Not only is this new action by the NHS meant to help protect the physical lives of both mother and child, but will hopefully help ease the increased anxiety felt by pregnant women since the onset of the pandemic.
Thinking about the future, The NHS Long Term Plan is committed to ensuring that by 2024, three-quarters of pregnant BAME women will receive care from the same midwife before, during and after they give birth. This is proven to help reduce preterm births, hospital admissions, the need for intervention during labour and to improve women's overall experience of care.