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Sarah Teather launches report on the dispersal of pregnant women seeking asylum

March 5, 2013 4:38 PM

Last week, Sarah Teather hosted the launch of a report which details the experiences of pregnant women in the asylum system. The research, carried out by Maternity Action and Refugee Council, found that the UK Border Agency is endangering the health of pregnant asylum seeking women and their babies by moving them to accommodation around the country, thereby removing them from essential healthcare and leading to isolation.

Sarah at the Maternity Matters Report launch

Sarah at the launch of the "When maternity doesn't matter" report

The report, entitled "When maternity doesn't matter", notes that asylum seeking women in the UK have high risk pregnancies, often due to serious physical health conditions having fled torture, sexual violence or female general mutilation in their own countries, with many suffering from serious mental health conditions, including severe depression, flashbacks and suicidal thoughts. The study found, however, that due to UKBA's policies, such women are being separated from the specialist treatment and monitoring they need throughout their pregnancies, contrary to guidance from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The report found examples of:

  • Pregnant women being moved to new accommodation multiple times
  • Women being moved against medical advice and too close to their due date
  • Women being separated from the father of their baby
  • Women giving birth alone, without a birth partner, and with no access to an interpreter
  • Wasted NHS resources, as midwives were not always informed when their patients were moved and spent time searching for them, and scans and tests were often repeated in their new area.

Commenting, Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather said:

"No pregnant woman or baby should have their health placed at risk because of their immigration status. The government surely agrees that the health of pregnant women and newborn babies is a priority. Many of these recommendations could be easily implemented within the current asylum system to ensure that maternity really does matter for every woman."

The full report can be read here: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0002/6310/ma_dispersal_fullreport_WEB.pdf

The actress Juliet Stevenson has also recorded a video for the report, which can be view here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjdCLFs_vBs