When Maternity Doesn’t Matter

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.

The authors say:
When maternity doesn’t matter is based on personal reports by current or former asylum seeking women and from midwives who have looked after such women before and after dispersal. We were shocked to discover the extent of the damaging impact that dispersal has on pregnant asylum seeking women, who already have some of the poorest maternal health outcomes in the UK.
We will use the report to campaign for UKBA to re-write its dispersal policies for pregnant women. We plan to ask supporters to help us by emailing their MPs to request they write to the Home Secretary, asking her to take action on this issue. It would be fantastic if you could promote the campaign to your networks too.
Take the campaign action at www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/dignityinpregnancy

• Download the report or the four page summary at www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/maternity
• Watch a 5 minute film with Juliet Stevenson downloadable at www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/dignityinpregnancy
It would also be fantastic if you could tweet about the report as we want to generate some noise on the twittersphere.

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