Why Guess when you can test?

What is the #WhyGuess campaign?

The Why Guess … when you can test? campaign wants to stop healthcare professionals having to guess whether a pregnant woman is carrying the potentially harmful group B strep bacteria. It wants pregnant women and their health professionals to have easy access to the gold standard ECM (Enriched Culture Medium) test, a test specifically designed to detect GBS carriage and described by Public Health England in their UK Standard.

Most group B Strep infections in newborn babies are preventable yet, on average in the UK:

  • One newborn baby a day develops group B Strep infection
  • One baby a week dies from group B Strep infection
  • One baby a fortnight who survives the infection is left with long-term disabilities – physical, mental, or both

Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies and the leading cause of meningitis in babies under three months. The rate of group B Strep infection in newborn babies in the UK has not fallen over the past 10 years, despite well-implemented risk-based prevention guidelines.

The current test used in the UK is poor at detecting GBS, missing up to 50% of carriers – little better than flipping a coin. It’s time to change.

What is the ECM test?

The ECM test is safe, simple and GBS-specific. It can accurately detect who is and who is not carrying group B Strep, enabling antibiotics to be targeted at women whose babies are at higher risk. These reduce the risk of the baby developing GBS infection, averting potentially devastating harm.

In the UK, the gold standard ECM (enriched culture medium) test, described by Public Health England in their UK standard, is rarely available in the NHS – when a health professional requests a test for group B Strep carriage, a substandard test is commonly used, that can miss as many as 50% of women carrying GBS.

Why are health professionals having to rely on a test for group B Strep carriage that gives results that are little better than guesswork? The ECM test should be available.

The “Why Guess … when you can test?” campaign wants to stop healthcare professionals having to guess whether a pregnant woman is carrying the potentially harmful group B Strep bacteria. It wants them to have easy access to the gold standard ECM test, a test specifically designed to detect GBS carriage.

Six things you can do right now

If you’ve got one minute:

  • Show your support of the Why Guess? campaign by signing up in the form below, and sharing your reason why.

If you’ve got five minutes:

  • Watch Charlotte Heath talk about her family’s experience of group B Strep, then share the video on social media.

If you’ve got more than ten minutes:

  • Write to your Member of Parliament asking them to sign Early Day Motion 255 and, even if they have already or aren’t able to, ask them to write to their Health Minister on the issue.
  • Plus get in touch with your local media – Newspapers, Radio, TV – tell them about the Why Guess? campaign and why and how you’re supporting it.
  • Organise a fundraising event in support of the Why Guess campaign – there are lots of ideas here.

Please also sign Fiona Paddon’s change.org/GBS petition which she launched on 1 July 2015 following the death of her son last year. It already has almost 200,000 signature – please sign it & share it. Informing expectant parents about group B Strep, and ensuring Mums have access to the GBS-specific test during pregnancy, could make all the difference in the world to some families.

Join the Why Guess? campaign

NB By filling in this form, you are agreeing to your name and comment being displayed online in support of the Why Guess? campaign.

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Total submissions to Date: 288

Most Recent 5 Submissions

Name About You (your job role/organisation you represent) I support the Why Guess? campaign because ... (please explain why)
Sallie lloyd Staff nurse We have just lost our 2 week old granddaughter to strep B This should have been prevented
Siobhan Callaghan PhD Student in Social Policy at the University of York In June 2014 my sister lost her beautiful little girl Imogen to meningitis and septicaemia, contracted through GBS infection. My sister had never been informed about this infection, or the risks it posed to her baby, during her pregnancy. When we began to look at what GBS was, were were horrified to find there is so much known about this infection, and that it seems the government are choosing to ignore this issue when they have the knowledge and capabilities to prevent the needless deaths and suffering of so many babies and families. That a simple test could have saved Imogen’s life is heart breaking. At the very least women deserve to be fully informed about the risks of GBS. I admire the work done by Jane Plumb and all at GBSS.org, and think the Why Guess? campaign is a fantastic idea. I hope to get involved in raising awareness of this issue, and ensuring women are well informed about GBS. Thank you for the amazing work you do.
Kelly Stubbs I\'m a first time mum and had a baby boy on 4th February 2016. I had never heard of Group B Strep until I saw people discussing whether or not to pay for the test on netmums. I initially thought if the NHS don\'t test for it it can\'t be THAT serious surely, but I\'d had a couple of bleeds during pregnancy so thought I\'d do the test. I asked my midwife before buying it and she said its nothing to worry about but it was up to me if I wanted to do it. I bought the test online and got my results when I was just over 37 weeks pregnant. When I was 38+1 my waters broke but nothing else happened. I had the antibiotics and ended up having an emergency c section. My baby had a low temperature at birth and was put on antibiotics and they were concerned that he had meningitis. We had a long 4 day wait until we were cleared to come home but that was such a harrowing time. I can\'t believe women aren\'t told about group b strep and the risks to their baby. I dread to think what could have happened if I hadn\'t known about it. Since having my baby and chatting to friends about it at least 2 of them know people whose babies have died because of strep b. Those deaths were avoidable and something needs to be done! We need to raise awareness and make the NHS carry out screening.
Amie Burnett My son caught gbs infection as I am a carrier however we were unaware of this at the time. The infection caused him to have pneumonia and he was in intensive care on high depenancy for a week. Luckily he survived however he has been left with damage to his lungs and has severe asmtha. I have since had a daughter but because I got the antibiotics which I needed, she is absolutely fine. Just wish I had known about gbs for my son as he and ourselves now have to deal with the long term damage to his lungs.
Kayleigh Bradley Care Assistant I had Group B strep during pregnancy and myself and midwives were unaware. Once my daughter was born, she became very ill. Fortunately after a 10 day stay in hospital, I was abke to take my daughter home.

Supporters of the #WhyGuess campaign

Latest News on the #WhyGuess campaign

Burgess Hill Town Council Backs ‘Why Guess When You Can Test?’ Campaign

October 8th, 2015|0 Comments

We’re please to announce that Burgess Hill Town Council supports the Why Guess … when you can test? campaign.

“Burgess Hill Town Council supports the Group B Strep Support (GBSS) aims for every pregnant woman to be offered […]

Babyworld Backs ‘Why Guess When You Can Test?’ Campaign

September 24th, 2015|0 Comments

We’re please to announce that Babyworld supports the Why Guess … when you can test? campaign.

“Babyworld supports the #WhyGuess campaign because we completely support Group B Strep in their campaign to make every mum-to-be aware and […]

Meningitis Now Backs ‘Why Guess When You Can Test?’ Campaign

September 23rd, 2015|0 Comments

We are excited to announce that national charity Meningitis Now supports the Why Guess … when you can test? campaign.

“”Meningitis Now supports the #WhyGuess campaign because we see the devastation caused […]

ICP Support Backs ‘Why Guess When You Can Test?’ Campaign

September 22nd, 2015|0 Comments

We are excited to announce that national charity ICP Support supports the Why Guess … when you can test? campaign.

“At ICP Support, we appreciate the importance of women having access to […]