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Royal College of Midwives response to report on asylum accommodation

The Royal College of Midwives has responded to a new report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration on the Home Office’s management of asylum accommodation provision.

The report can be found on gov.uk here and a statement from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration here. 

The RCM response states that:

“The report clearly demonstrates that urgent improvements need to be made in order to safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable adults granted asylum, such as pregnant and post-partum women. The report includes data from a midwife’s caseload to show the complexity of the physical and mental healthcare needs of pregnant women and new mothers. Asylum-seeking women in the UK are three times more likely to die in childbirth.

The report revealed that poor information-sharing has existed between the Home Office and midwifery services, and that it is vitally necessary to change this without delay, as well as capture and analyse the data on the women granted asylum, to ensure the health of vulnerable mothers and their new-born children. Basic information, such as the number of women in asylum accommodation, needs to become routinely available.

Other causes for concern include the type of housing offered, which was judged often ill-suited to the needs of pregnant or post-partum women: narrow terraced houses with steep staircases, for example, create mobility issues. Additionally, a lack of essential items, such as cots and sterilising equipment – despite being part of the contract that governs asylum accommodation – was frequently found.

Most concerning of all, however, was that the Inspection Team found the Home Office has yet to engage fully with the crucial steps to safeguard the health of pregnant women outlined in a document of planned actions in a report produced last year by the Home Affairs Committee.”

Data sharing is an issue which Asylum Matters has expressed concern about as part of the Access to Healthcare campaign.

Gabrielle Bourke, Policy Advisor at the RCM, said, “As the Home Office negotiates the new contract for asylum accommodation, the RCM is calling for the guidance for caring for pregnant women and new mothers to be made a priority.”