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Trying to stop infections that kill 50 vulnerable babies every year as hospitals refuse to conduct a study

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Group B strep is a deadly infection that kills 50 babies each year and leaves another 75 with lifelong disabilities. A simple £11 test could save newborns from dying needlessly

A simple 11lb test prevents one baby from dying a week in the UK
A simple 11lb test prevents one baby from dying a week in the UK (file image)

An attempt to save one baby a week from dying in Britain is in danger of collapsing before it even gets started as hospitals across the country refuse to take part.

Group B strep is a deadly infection that kills 50 babies each year and leaves another 75 with lifelong disabilities.

However, a simple test during pregnancy could prevent newborns from contracting the virus, which can cause sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.

Unlike most affluent countries like the US, Canada and much of Europe, the UK does not routinely test pregnant women for Group B Strep – also known as GBS or Strep B.

But if the test were routinely carried out as part of the maternity care women receive, it would only cost the NHS £11.

Charity Group B Strep Support has been campaigning for years for a study that would be accepted by the government, which says there is currently insufficient data to support routine testing in the UK.

A £4million study being carried out by the University of Nottingham is due to start in September but will need to involve 80 hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland so that 320,000 mothers and their babies can be tested.

But so far, of the 80 hospitals needed, only 30 have said they will take part in the study.






Jane Plumb is co-founder of Group B Strep Support

Shockingly, even Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital, whose failures in maternity care exposed in the Ockenden Report and which included families who lost their babies to group B strep, has not yet committed to the process.

Jane Plumb, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support, told the Mirror: “It took over 20 years for this study to be commissioned. It is devastating that only 30 of the 80 hospitals needed have signed up. We must not let this test fail.

“We must fight for the 800 babies a year who are infected with this all too often deadly infection.

“We need more hospitals to participate. We must unite and get this study across the finish line.

“Most group B strep infections in babies are preventable, but we need to test women to find out if they are carriers of the bacteria. If we don’t know, they can’t be offered the protective antibiotics during labor.

“Families tell us so often that they first hear about group B strep after their baby gets sick. For a mostly preventable infection, this is unforgivable – and must change.”







One baby per week dies from group B streptococcus (file image)
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Picture:

(Getty Images)

Ms Plumb added: “We would like to encourage every hospital to participate. We need people asking for the support of their MPs.

“This is an opportunity to save the lives of so many babies, but we only have 6 months to get hospitals on board. It really is now or never.”

The charity is asking people to write to their MP and the chief executive of their local hospital, encouraging them to register for the trial before the September 30 deadline.

A draft letter is available here which you can change to include your own experience with Strep B if you wish.

The 30 hospital foundations that have committed to participate so far:

  • Bolton NHS Foundation Trust
  • County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
  • East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust
  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Kettering General Hospital
  • King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  • Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
  • Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Trust
  • North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
  • Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
  • University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire
  • University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
  • Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • West Middlesex University Hospital
  • Whittington Health NHS Trust

Click here to learn more about what Group B Strep is, where to get a private test, how to know if your baby has it and more

If you want to learn more about group B strep, how to get tested if you’re pregnant, or signs to look out for, visit Group B Strep Support

Call the hotline 0330 120 0796 or E-Mail info@gbss.org.uk

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bid-stop-infection-killing-50-26742494 Trying to stop infections that kill 50 vulnerable babies every year as hospitals refuse to conduct a study

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