Nytt

En undersøkelse foretatt av den engelske dagsavisen Daily Mail viser at 24,7 prosent av barna som ble født i Storbritannia i 2009, hadde utenlandsfødte mødre, sammenlignet med 24,1 prosent året før. Denne prosentandelen er omlag den dobbelte av det den var i 1997, da Labour kom til makten under ledelse av Tony Blair.

De to største utenlandske gruppene utgjøres på landsnivå av mødre fra Pakistan og Polen. Som forventet viser tallene store lokale variasjoner. I London-bydelen Newham er det 75,7 prosent av de nyfødte som har utenlandske mødre.

Endel sykehus har problemer som følge av kombinasjonen av flere barnefødsler, kulturbarrierer og manglende språkkunnskaper. Ealing Hospital i London har sett en 20 prosents økning i antall fødsler de siste fem årene, og et team av offentlige tolker er rede til å yte assistanse 24 timer i døgnet. Samtidig har arbeidspresset på jordmødre gjort det nødvendig å ansette flere. Ikke desto mindre forteller nybakte mødre om kaotiske tilstander ved sykehuset:

Beezy Marsh, a 38-year-old former Daily Mail health correspondent, says: ‘I gave birth to my son Bryn at Ealing four years ago.

‘My acute medical care was good. I had a life-threatening condition [major placenta praevia, which can require an emergency Caesarean] and the doctors there basically saved my life. But I was shocked by some of the things I saw.

‘The services were overstretched, with the midwives struggling every day. I monitored the progress of a bloodstained nightgown over the course of five days, hanging forlornly over a shower rail.

‘The cleaners ignored it. The staff never bothered to look. In the end, I donned a pair of surgical gloves and took it to the ward’s dirty linen basket.

‘The post-natal care was dreadful — once you were out of physical danger, the staff didn’t want to know, they had to put all their resources in at the sharp end.

‘The majority of women were not white Caucasian because Ealing hospital is the nearest NHS hospital to Southall, which has a large Asian community, and Ealing is also home to many Poles. You could see the strain of coping with such a diverse population — the curry menu at the hospital was fantastic, far better than the English food on offer.’

Staff clearly encountered difficulties with some patients’ cultural norms. Beezy witnessed a Somali man insist his wife — who had already had two children by Caesarean section — should go home to have a ‘natural’ birth because it was ‘woman’s work’.

‘Doctors begged him not to take her home, explaining that they needed to perform a Caesarean, because her womb was at risk of rupture if she went into labour naturally. They left anyway. It was horrendous.’

Inside the migrant maternity ward where the NHS is struggling to cope