JMW are raising awareness of group B Strep with the charity, Group B Strep Support

16th July 2021 Clinical Negligence

JMW welcome the opportunity to work with Group B Strep Support (GBSS) to help them raise awareness of the dangers of group B Strep and achieve their goal of stopping group B Strep infections in babies.

We are delighted to offer GBSS our support to enable them, in turn, to support families affected by GBS.

Group B Strep is commonest cause of severe infection in newborns and meningitis in children under five years old in the UK. Sixty-six babies are diagnosed with group B Strep infection every month in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Most make a full recovery but, tragically, of those 66, six suffer long term disabilities and four babies die.

Yet, very few people have heard of group B Strep and many parents only learn about it when their baby develops the infection.

Sadly, as solicitors specialising in medical negligence we have seen the devastating effect group B Strep can have. We often end up advising and assisting families affected by group B Strep, after their baby has died or suffered severe, life changing injuries. Recently, our solicitors have acted for a young boy who suffered brain injury at birth as a result of group B Strep and was left with physical and learning disabilities, and for the bereaved parents of a baby who died as a result of her Mother not being given antibiotics when she should have been.

When acting for those affected by group B Strep we do our best to secure assurances from the hospital trusts involved that they have changed their policies and procedures and improved staff education to try to prevent the same thing happening to other families, but we know that wider change is needed.

That is why we wholly support GBSS in their aims, which are that:

  1. Every pregnant woman should be given information on group B Strep as a routine part of her antenatal care.
  2. Every low-risk pregnant woman should be offered a sensitive test for GBS colonisation at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy without charge (and, where these tests are not freely available, all pregnant women should be told that these tests are available privately).
  3. Every higher-risk pregnant woman (those identified as carrying GBS, those who have had a baby with GBS disease, and those where recognised risk factors are present) to be offered intravenous antibiotics from the start of labour until delivery.

These simple, but effective, steps of providing information, testing and, where necessary, prescribing antibiotics could save many families from suffering the heartache we have seen too many clients go through as a result of their babies being infected with group B Strep.

We will be using group B Strep awareness month to help raise awareness of the risk of infection and need for reliable ECM testing for group B Strep during pregnancy, either through the NHS or, if your hospital does not provide ECM testing and you can afford it, privately. More information can be found here: https://gbss.org.uk/info-support/group-b-strep-testing/should-i-get-a-group-b-strep-test/​​​​​

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Nicola Wainwright is a Partner located in Londonin our Clinical Negligence department

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