United Kingdom

Boris Johnson is told to end his 'women problem'

Maria Miller (above), the Tory MP and former Women and Equalities Minister, met the Prime Minister last week to push for greater protections for pregnant women and new mothers

Boris Johnson was last night urged to tackle his 'women problem' and introduce a package of support, including doing more to allow partners to be at hospital births and scans – or risk losing the female vote.

Maria Miller, the Tory MP and former Women and Equalities Minister, met the Prime Minister last week to push for greater protections for pregnant women and new mothers.

She said Mr Johnson was 'receptive' and shocked when she told him one in four pregnant or new mothers had been singled out for furlough or redundancy during the pandemic.

Ms Miller called on the Prime Minister to 'review the way maternity discrimination measures work and help women stay in work when pregnant'.

She also backed The Mail on Sunday's campaign to end the scandal of women being forced by hospital trusts to have scans and give birth without the support of their partners because of Covid rules, against Government guidelines.

Ms Miller said: 'We have to do more to get trusts to change their policies. That is absolutely crucial.

'Too many women already face post-natal depression. I'm really concerned the way Covid will affect women who are pregnant and do not have their partners fully involved.'

Boris Johnson was last night urged to tackle his 'women problem' and introduce a package of support, including doing more to allow partners to be at hospital births and scans – or risk losing the female vote

Last week, new mum Amelia Rose shared her agony on social media of facing three days alone during labour, leaving her 'emotional, anxious, stressed-out'. Her partner was allowed into the ward only when doctors were 'pulling our daughter out of my tummy,' Ms Rose said, adding: 'It's not right, it's certainly not fair.'

Ms Miller has also called for the Government to review paternity leave, including finding ways to increase financial support for men and increase protection for workers who ask for flexible hours.

Ms Miller said: 'It is crucial the Conservative Party has broad appeal. The women's vote is always important when it comes to General Elections. It's crucial we have policies that appeal across the board. Women, especially younger women, have been disproportionately affected in the workplace and are having a difficult time during the pandemic.'

Meanwhile, the TUC, which conducted the research on new mothers and redundancy, has called for employers who break the law and target pregnant women to be fined.

The Prime Minister has been accused of having a 'women problem' because of a lack of senior female voices in the Cabinet. Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, has previously challenged Mr Johnson on why women have not been more 'visible' in the Government.

Pressure is growing on Mr Johnson from campaigners who warn that pregnant women are increasingly anxious about going into hospital, even if they have complications, because they do not want to face important appointments alone.

A spokesman for Birthrights, a charity that promotes human rights in maternity care, said: 'We know that women disengage from care when it is no longer meeting their needs.

The Prime Minister has been accused of having a 'women problem' because of a lack of senior female voices in the Cabinet. Caroline Nokes (above), chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, has previously challenged Mr Johnson on why women have not been more 'visible' in the Government

'Maternity services want people to know that their doors remain wide open during the current pandemic.

'However, we see that inflexible visiting restrictions are pushing people away and preventing some women from seeking the care they need.'

Horror stories of pregnant women being incorrectly put into Covid-19 wards are also frightening some away.

One pregnant woman who has hyperemesis gravidarum, the complication the Duchess of Cambridge had which leads to severe vomiting, was admitted to a Covid ward earlier this month because of her symptoms.

Aceil Haddad, of Pregnant Then Screwed, the campaign group that took up the case, said: 'She was deliberately put in harm's way.'

She added: 'With birth partners still unable to attend appointments, scans or emergency appointments with their partners, it is alarming to learn that as a consequence women are not seeking treatment when they need to.

'Falls, bleeds and reduced foetal movements are important to get checked, for the safety of both the carrier and the baby, but I completely understand why women are avoiding checks because they are nervous about being alone.

'Pregnancy is hugely stressful without restrictions, and we need the policies to change to ensure the safety of all.'

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