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MBRRACE 2022 Statement

This month, the latest “MBRRACE UK Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care Report” was published, which is the ninth of its kind and looked into the period between 2018-2020. Unfortunately, and once again, the report highlighted the many inequalities and improvements needed in maternity care.

This report includes the surveillance information for women who died during and after pregnancy for 2018-20, which includes the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, when there were many service-related changes. The clearest impact on maternal mortality rates has been an increase in mental health-related deaths, principally women who have died by suicide.

Very sadly, the maternal mortality rate has risen even if women who died from Covid-19 are excluded. Across all the chapters in the report, assessors identified important messages concerning the care of women with multiple adversity and multiple morbidities, who are once again over-represented. The reviews of the care of women who died from Covid-19 were not included, but impacts of pandemic-related service changes have been noted in several chapters reporting on the care of women who died from other conditions. The majority of women who died from Covid-19 in 2020 were from ethnic minority groups, but it is encouraging that despite this the disparity in maternal mortality rates between women from Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups and White women has continued to decrease slightly. Nevertheless, the maternal mortality rate amongst women who live in the most deprived areas is increasing and addressing these disparities remains an important, key focus.

As the report highlights, deaths from mental health-related causes as a whole (suicide and substance abuse) account for nearly 40% of deaths occurring within a year after the end of pregnancy with maternal suicide remaining the leading cause of direct deaths in this period.

Of concern is a further rise in suicides among young women, many of whom were care leavers. An alarming statistic from the report is that in 2020, women were 3x more likely to die by suicide during or up to six weeks after the end of pregnancy compared to 2017-19.

In much the same way as previous MBRRACE reports, this year’s report emphasises the crucial role The PANDAS Foundation plays in maternal mental health care and support. We remain dedicated to providing accessible and free support for every parent, carer and their network who need us, no matter what their background.

This year, we have been focussing and emphasising the importance of early intervention, which is a key element and value of our service. We know from the NHS Waiting Times survey that we produced this year, that accessing treatment and support early is absolutely key. Four in ten of the over 1000 we surveyed said they had to wait too long to receive the mental health treatment they needed on the NHS, and in that time 76% say their conditions worsened, including symptoms of intrusive thoughts, being unable to bond with their child and suicidal thoughts.

We know from this latest MBRRACE report that very few women who died by suicide in 2020 had formal mental health diagnoses, but significant numbers of them did have a history of trauma. As a charity we understand the importance of this significant information, and will continue to work tirelessly to acknowledge and implement steps to support this aspect with our service users. We are so grateful to our fantastic volunteers who work so hard for the charity and undertake exceptional training to ensure they are capable, informed and empathetic in their support in the complex and sensitive area of perinatal mental health. Every staff member and volunteer receive safeguarding training (which covers suicide) prior to commencing their role at PANDAS, and now on a yearly basis. This lates report shows how absolutely vital this is. 

As a charity we continue to rise to the ever-growing demand on us, and to act as early intervention care, easing the pressure on the NHS in the process. As a charity we are so grateful for the support of the community, both in terms of its awareness raising and its fundraising efforts, without which we would not be able to do what we do. Demand on our services is now 70% higher than pre-pandemic levels, and we continue to rise to the challenge of meeting that demand.

We hope that with further recognition and financial support we can continue to thrive and expand our services, in a landscape where they are so very needed, as outlined by this report. Read the full report here


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