In summer 2022, NHS Kent and Medway asked people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and those living in neighbourhoods with high levels deprivation about their experiences of maternity services.

We wanted to find out what was working and what could be improved so Kent and Medway Local Maternity and Neonatal System could develop an action plan to reduce inequalities in perinatal, or maternity care.

Community engagement

Working with local community organisations, NHS Kent and Medway’s Engagement Team spoke to more than 350 people to help shape a perinatal equity strategy.

Compas, The Gr@nd, Medway Diversity Forum, Diversity House, People Dem Collective and Involving Medway and Swale helped reach families from specific communities, who experience poorer outcomes and may be less likely to trust statutory bodies.


  • developed a survey and letter asking people to share their experiences in the online survey
  • worked with children’s centres in target areas to share the survey and reach communities
  • worked with our community partners so they could carry out  interviews and run focus groups
  • worked with the four acute hospital trusts to share the survey and reach communities.

The four acute hospital trusts are:

  1. Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust
  2. East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
  3. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  4. Medway NHS Foundation Trust

What did we ask?

  • What was your recent experience of maternity services?
  • What worked well?
  • What could be improved?
  • What cultural traditions do you have that are relevant to maternity services?

A perinatal equity planning day was held in October 2022, which provided an opportunity for community organisations to give feedback and work with maternity partners to create a plan.

The equality and equity action plan 

A stakeholder group has developed an action plan to inform the perinatal equity strategy – an overview of the action plan can be viewed in the full reports and appendices document library at the top of this page.

The group includes representation from maternity and neonatal services in the four acute provider trusts, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust perinatal mental health services, Kent and Medway Maternity Voices Partnership, NHS Kent and Medway Engagement Team, inequalities leads, and representatives of Kent County Council and Medway Council public health teams.

Work to achieve the goals set out in the action plan and embed a sustainable approach to perinatal care started in September 2022. The equity action plan was agreed by the board in March 2023 (item 15, page 5).