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: 314

Most Recent 5 Submissions

Name About You (your job role/organisation you represent) I support the Why Guess? campaign because ... (please explain why)
C Goulding Mother to be It was only a move to another hospital that triggered a urine test, and this showed positive for a GBS urine infection, at 39 weeks.
Ryan Whitney My son became ill with Group B Strep aged 17 days. I wish I knew about the test then.
Alexandra Carroll A caring mother of 2 boys with 1 boy on the way I was positive for group strep b with my first child and I had no idea how simple the testing process was yet the devastation that may have happened had I not had my antibiotics during labour
Sophie stevens My daughter caught it for me when she was born and spent 10 days in nicu
Rachael Burnett Mum of three I asked to be tested with our third child. I was informed that due to the fact I already had 2 healthy children I would not be tested! When our daughter was born she was seriously ill with strep b. After intensive care treatment she was one of the lucky ones and made a full recovery . She is 7 now and I count my blessings every day.

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 […]