Border Agency executives are risking pregnant women's lives by dumping asylum-seekers in cheap rooms far from maternity care, midwives warned yesterday.
Royal College of Midwives general secretary Cathy Warwick poured scorn on Britain's "shocking" asylum process, highlighting that immigration officials were failing hundreds of women when they were most in need.
The comments followed Maternity Action and the Refugee Council's release of When Maternity Doesn't Matter, a series of harrowing case studies on the lives of pregnant asylum-seekers.
One woman, Frieda, said agency officials sent her to live in a town 50 miles from her partner and her specialist treatment in Leeds - even though they knew she was HIV-positive and 36 weeks pregnant.
"They robbed me of everything - my friends, my family, everyone is here (in Leeds)," she told researchers.
Irene, a rape survivor, was forced to share a Yorkshire hostel with men and was not allowed to register for a GP or midwife.
After 21 days she was moved again to a hostel in the north-east - only for officials to stop her payments and hand her an eviction notice the day before she went into labour.
"Giving me this letter just as I was about to give birth, I felt that it was inhuman," she said.
Ms Warwick said Britain arguably had one of the best maternity services in the world - yet the report showed vulnerable women were missing out on vital care.
"Our society is failing these women and their babies.
"This is not acceptable, particularly when the solutions are so obvious," she said.
Maternity Action's director Rosalind Bragg agreed.
"It is high time the UKBA recognised asylum-seeking women as being a particularly vulnerable group with complex needs and urgently ensure their policies reflect this.
"All women deserve to be treated with dignity during pregnancy," she said.
A UKBA spokesman insisted the agency considered every case individually: "Any asylum-seeker is only moved to a different area if it is safe and practical to do so and those with severe or complex health-care needs have their clinicians notified throughout the process."
A new policy also ruled out moving any pregnant woman in the four weeks before and after her due date, he added.
The calls come nearly a year after an asylum-seeker and her 10-month-old baby starved to death in a Westminster flat.
A leaked post-mortem reported "no food in his gut at all and so [he] had not eaten for several days at least," while the mother died in hospital after telling doctors she had not eaten in two days.
The child's mother had already won her asylum case, granting her access to state benefits, but officers had not yet filed the paperwork which left her dependent on irregular cash handouts from health and social-care agencies.
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