A top London researcher is leading a £1.9million project to improve the experiences of expectant mums in the East End.

Prof Angela Harden, community and family health expert at the University of East London (UEL), has joined forces with head of maternity services at Barts Health, Sandra Reading, to investigate the realities of antenatal care for socially disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities.

The grant from the National Institute for Health Research will be spent during the next five years.

It will target patients with some of the highest birth rates and worst maternal outcomes in the UK.

The three-pronged approach includes developing and testing community-based intervention, a country-wide analysis of group-based antenatal care and allowing women a greater say in the planning of maternity services.

Prof Harden said: “We know how important early uterine development is for determining the future life course of babies yet there are huge inequalities in early and consistent uptake of antenatal care.

“This research programme will provide valuable research evidence on what works to improve outcomes and reduce inequalities through closer partnership working between local women and healthcare professionals.”