As we pause between the Christmas and New Year holidays, it’s a great time to take a minute to look back on 2016 and to thank everyone who helped make it such an amazing year.
Why Guess? Campaign Parliamentary Launch
On 30 November, we were delighted to kick-start our Why Guess … when you can test? campaign with a parliamentary launch held at Portcullis House, Westminster. A sincere thank you to everyone who has written to their MP about improving awareness and prevention of group B Strep. It really does make a difference.
MPs were keen to get involved, and we’ll be keeping you updated as the campaign progresses.
Earlier in the year, our patron, Sir Nicholas Soames MP, spoke eloquently about group B Strep in the House of Commons during Baby Loss Awareness Week. You can watch this by clicking here.
National GBS Guideline Reviews
The start of 2016 saw a recommendation from the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists that the national guidelines on group B Strep be updated. We fully supported that call, and are very pleased that the ‘fast-tracked’ review of the RCOG’s GBS guidelines has started, with a publication date of summer 2017 likely. This is a great opportunity for the prevention strategies for group B Strep infection in babies to be clarified and improved in the light of the latest research.
The UK National Screening Committee is also reviewing its position on a UK screening programme for group B Strep. Their published ‘expert review’ is clearly recommending against an antenatal GBS screening programme, this is out for public consultation (deadline 25 January 2017) and we’ll be explaining how to contribute to that in the New Year.
Turning 20, and The Big GBSS Bake Sale
In July 1996, Jane and Robert Plumb founded Group B Strep Support after their middle child’s death from early-onset group B Strep infection. So 2016 saw the charity celebrate it’s 20th birthday!
Wonderfully, so many of you joined in the celebrations by hosting or attending a Big GBSS Bake Sale – much cake was made, and much eaten! Between you, you raised thousands of pounds to support the charity’s vital work. Thank you so much.
Royal Society of Medicine debate – women should be screened for GBS
In May at the Royal Society of Medicine, a debate was held on whether group B Strep screening should be offered to all pregnant women. This lecture was organised by the Obstetrics & Gynaecology Section of the RSM and attended by health professionals interested in obstetrics and gynaecology.
Speaking for offering GBS screening to pregnant women was Professor Philip Steer, Chair of our Medical Advisory Panel and speaking against was Dr Austin Ugwumadu, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust. Before the debate, 66% of the audience voted in favour of all women having GBS screening, with 34% against. After the debate, 96% voted in favour of all women having GBS screening, with 4% voting against.
July was Group B Strep Awareness Month
July’s Group B Strep Awareness Month was a great success – raising huge awareness, and reaching millions of people. Group B Strep made the national news, was covered by ITV’s This Morning (click here to watch our patron, Dr Chris Steele MBE, talk about GBS on ITV’s This Morning), regional and local papers, and radio stations. So many more people are now aware of group B Strep and the risks it can pose.
Thanks to everyone who made it such an amazing awareness month, and particularly to those who shared their stories of how group B Strep has affected their lives. It wouldn’t have happened without you.
Group B Strep Change.org Petition
As you’ll probably know, throughout 2016 we’ve been running a Change.org petition with Fiona Paddon, whose son Edward died aged just 9 days from early-onset group B Strep infection. Edward’s story has reached hundreds of thousands of people, raising huge awareness.
We’re planning to deliver the petition to the Department of Health in early 2017, and will keep you posted on how to get involved with the delivery event.
At time of writing, the petition has nearly 250,000 signatures. If you haven’t already, please click here to sign and then share the GBS petition.