Babies are stillborn because pregnant women can’t afford to keep appointments amid cost-of-living crisis, report warns.
The researchers are calling for new funding to help ensure moms-to-be don’t miss important appointments and can take proper care of themselves.
Bradford District, Craven Health and Care Partnership and Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust reviewed a number of maternity security incidents in the city.
Their analysis concluded that “the current financial crisis is affecting the ability of some women to attend essential prenatal appointments.”
And it found that missing these appointments was a factor in a variety of adverse events, including stillbirth.
Report warns babies are stillborn because mothers can’t afford vital health appointments during cost-of-living crisis (file image)
“No show” rates have risen as more women have no money to pay for transport to hospital, while “lack of credit on phones impeded communication between women and maternity services, for example, preventing them from rearrange scans”. or quotes’.
The review, first published in the Health Service Journal, identified widespread “digital poverty”, including a woman with type 1 diabetes, who was unable to control her blood sugar levels at night because she only had a phone charger in her home.
Meanwhile, families with babies in a neonatal unit were running out of food to cover the cost of visiting their baby.
The Bradford NHS has tried various initiatives to address these issues, including partnering with food banks and providing food at antenatal clinics. and introduce toll-free numbers for key maternity services.
It has also worked to try to address travel costs, even unsuccessfully asking local bus service First Bus to consider free fares.
Abbie Wild, Best 1001 Days Program Director, told HSJ: ‘Families could not afford bus or taxi fare to essential appointments.
‘For example, having a monitor to detect reduced fetal movements or attending blood pressure checks for a woman who has been identified as having high blood pressure (both are serious concerns).
‘It became apparent that the process for claiming reimbursement (for travel expenses) was quite complex and involved providing proof of benefit; assist the cashier’s office at the main hospital site outside the maternity unit; be aware that such an option existed; and have the money in advance.
‘Many are not readily available or easily navigated, especially families for whom English is not their first language.
‘They may not have that money in their pocket to be able to pay upfront; if they do and have difficulty feeding their family, they may prioritize buying a loaf of bread and a pint of milk over going to their maternity appointment.’
He said the team had asked local NHS organizations if they could fund prepaid public transport vouchers instead of the existing more expensive and complex reimbursement schemes, but were told this was not possible due to national budget constraints.
They are now seeking a national policy that would allow prepaid travel for some or all of the parents-to-be.
Ms Wild said: ‘The logistics (of reallocation of funds) mean that the decision has to come from the top.
Money cannot be moved locally. ‘There needs to be an agenda and a national decision to make that change.
“I think there’s a pretty easy solution here to avoid bad outcomes: Give pregnant women free travel and it could save lives.”
A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that all women, regardless of where they live, can access a high standard of care throughout their pregnancy.”
‘We recognize that people struggle with the cost of living, which is why we have increased support for pregnant women through maternity allowance and maternity allowance by 10.1 per cent.
‘NHS England has published guidance for local maternity systems, with support of £6.8 million, focusing on actions to reduce disparities and we have also set up a ‘maternity disparities task force’ to explore and consider interventions evidence-based.’
The Department of Health and Welfare also highlighted other benefit payments available to some parents; money you have invested in bus services, including limiting fares to £2 on some routes; and said the NHSE was monitoring inequalities in childbearing outcomes.