The National Screening Committee (NSC) convened a workshop in November 2003 on preventing GBS infection in newborn babies. You can see the presentations from this workshop by clicking here. Discussions from this workshop were used to inform the NSC and the key outcomes were:
1. The National electronic Library for Women’s Health will focus on improving the organisation, distribution and management of knowledge about GBS. This will be a priority for next year. NeLH will work with NHS Direct to make this information available to women as well as clinicians.
This is an enormous step forward – good quality information being provided to health professionals and pregnant women is brilliant news!
2. Priority will be given to ensuring that women at increased risk receive consistent advice and appropriate clinical management.
This is fantastic too because, to achieve this, the level of knowledge about GBS prevention needs to rise dramatically amongst health professionals. And it also means that reliable testing should be made available on the NHS for this group of women, for example, so obstetricians can use reliable test to establish whether a woman with prolonged rupture of membranes is carrying GBS. The sooner reliable tests are available on the NHS, the better!
3. The research priorities for GBS will be reviewed and further research commissioned as appropriate.
This is a wonderful opportunity for good quality, useful research to be commissioned – clearly it’s important that money is spent on new research, rather than repeating research already done either here or in other countries. The commitment seems to be there to fund research aimed at GBS prevention, and even though the results may take years to obtain, that’s got to be good news
4. A project group will keep early-onset GBS, prevention, particularly the management of women at medium and low risk, under review and report to the NSC Antenatal Sub-Group.
The women at medium/low risk we believe would also benefit from ECM testing being available to them on the NHS. They could then make an informed decision about their care, based on good quality information about their GBS carriage status. But this seems unlikely to be available for the foreseeable future.
So there’s lots of really encouraging news – and we mustn’t forget that the NSC November 2003 workshop only happened because of the parliamentary activity in the preceding 6 months – so our thanks to everyone who involved their MP in the campaign, and to all the MPs who helped by asking questions, writing letters, etc. Your hard work has borne fruit!