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Maternity charges in NHS widen health inequalities

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 10 May 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:e071154
  1. Nikesh Parekh, general practitioner1,
  2. Rosalind Bragg, director2,
  3. Sylvia Stoianova, programme manager3,
  4. Allyson Pollock, clinical professor of public health4
  1. 1Seaford Medical Practice, Seaford, UK
  2. 2Maternity Action, London, UK
  3. 3National Child Mortality Database, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  4. 4Institute of Population Health Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to: N Parekh drnparekh{at}

This discriminatory legislation should be revoked

In 2019, the NHS long term plan set an ambition of halving stillbirths and neonatal and maternal mortality from 2010 levels by 2025.1 For neonatal mortality (deaths in the first 28 days of life), this represents a reduction to 1.5 deaths per 1000 live births.2 This commitment was timely, as England’s neonatal mortality figures were stagnating after a long period of decline, and the country was lagging behind other European countries.2 Neonatal deaths represented 42% of all child deaths in England in 2019-20 and were concentrated among the poorest in society.3 In 2019-20, a third (31.7%) of neonatal deaths were in babies born to mothers in the most deprived fifth of the population; only 8.8% were to mothers in the least deprived fifth.4

Meeting the government’s commitment to halving neonatal mortality will be impossible without also narrowing disparities between more and less advantaged families. Crucial to redressing this balance is ensuring equity of access …

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