On 25.2.2013 Maternity Action and Refugee Council launch new research that investigates the health impact of dispersal and relocation on pregnant women and new mothers seeking asylum.
This study demonstrates a need for the UKBA to reconsider its policy of dispersing pregnant women. The report’s recommendations include the following:
1. UKBA should recognise pregnancy in women seeking asylum as involving complex needs, including mental health, family and social circumstances, experience of trauma and violence, and underlying health conditions and reflect this in its policies and processes.
2. Pregnant women should not normally be dispersed. They should be housed where they can continue to access their GP and maternity care, and are within reach of friends or family support.
3. No woman should be dispersed after 34 weeks gestation, or sooner than 6 weeks postnatally. This means extending the new ‘protected period’ from at least 6 weeks before the expected date of delivery to at least 6 weeks after giving birth and after discharge from postnatal care.
4. If dispersal is unavoidable, there must be a full risk assessment, carried out by the woman’s current treating midwife or other midwife with expertise in the care of vulnerable women.
5. No pregnant woman who has booked into maternity care should be dispersed without arrangements having been made for her to be received into maternity care in the dispersal area.
6. Women should have adequate financial support throughout and following pregnancy, and it should be provided in cash.
7. The Department of Health should facilitate local monitoring of negative impacts of dispersal on effective maternity care, and share this data with UKBA.
8. The UKBA should urgently develop dispersal policies for pregnant women seeking asylum and new mothers, using expertise of maternity and health professionals and relevant voluntary organisations which are compatible with the NICE guidance