Group B Strep Support – the UK’s leading charity working to eradicate group B Strep infection in babies – is very excited to welcome six new Trustees and a distinguished new Chair, who between them bring a wealth of expertise and insight that will help guide the charity’s communications, advocacy and awareness-raising work at an exciting time in its campaign history.
The charity is very proud that two current Presidents of prestigious Royal Colleges will be joining its Board of Trustees. Dr Edward Morris (Eddie), current President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), will become the new Chair, and Dr Kathryn Gutteridge, current President of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) joins as a Trustee.
Eddie’s and Kathryn’s standing in the world of women’s medicine – with their particular expertise in pregnancy issues – bring great knowledge and value to the charity. Other prominent new Trustees include Alison Eddy, London Managing Partner at Irwin Mitchell, who brings significant medical negligence expertise and a passion for patient safety, and Emily Cook, a former Fleet Street journalist who now works as director and head of the health practice at one of the UK’s leading independent public affairs and strategic communications agencies.
Dr Balissa Greene, a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Claire Barlow, co-Director at The Foundation for Young Musicians and a fundraising expert, and Diane Jones, Chief Nurse & Director of Quality at North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups are also joining the Board at this important time for the charity.
The charity’s vision is a world without group B Strep infection, and its immediate aims are to improve awareness of group B Strep and see the UK introduce routine screening to protect more babies. Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing serious infections including pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, yes most of these infections in newborn babies could be prevented.
Health Minister Nadine Dorries has named group B Strep her top priority, and the ground-breaking GBS3 trial of testing is currently underway. This £2.8 million trial, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will guide improvements to the prevention of potentially fatal group B Strep infection in newborn babies in the UK, involving 80 hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland.
Group B Strep Support’s Chief Executive Jane Plumb MBE said:
“All of the team are absolutely thrilled to welcome such high-profile, talented and heavyweight individuals as new Trustees and a new Chair to the charity. We set up GBSS 24 years ago when we lost our newborn son Theo to group B Strep infection and, while we have made tremendous strides since then, there is still a lot to do. It is incredibly exciting to welcome these influential Trustees, who bring a fantastic wealth of knowledge and expertise and who will help take the charity to the next level.”
“We are delighted to welcome Eddie as Chair. His enthusiasm, expertise and passion for improving the health of and care for pregnant women and their babies will help drive the charity forward. Eddie has an incredible standing and reputation in the area of women’s health and pregnancy, and will be a real benefit to the charity’s work.”
Eddie brings 19 years’ experience as an NHS Consultant, with wide and varied interests across obstetrics and gynaecology. He has championed patient safety as a priority, and worked closely with Group B Strep Support both as RCOG Vice President and more recently as President. He was part of the team that worked with Group B Strep Support to co-write the RCOG’s group B Strep clinical guideline.
Eddie Morris said of his appointment:
“From my work on the group B Strep guideline I found working with the GBSS team to be enjoyable and rewarding. Since then a close bond has developed with the team and it seemed the natural next step. I am very excited to be the new Chair of the Board of Trustees and greatly look forward to working with Jane and her team.”
Kathryn Gutteridge, President of the RCM, brings to the Board of Trustees her experience as a Consultant Midwife with a long history of clinical care in the NHS. She has worked in diverse settings including neonatal services and community midwifery, and has been an expert advisor to both the RCM and the RCOG. She is passionate about women’s issues and particularly around pregnancy and birth, and specialises in women’s psychological, emotional and mental wellbeing during childbirth.
Kathryn Gutteridge said of her appointment:
“For many years I have worked with families and childbirth, both in the joyous moments but sadly in the times of great grief. I hope that I will be able to add my midwifery expertise in reducing the times that parents have to grieve such a loss. I hope that I can influence midwifery care for the future of the charity and work with others to raise awareness of this terrible disease that affects newborn babies.”
The new trustees will work alongside other high-profile supporters of the charity, who include ITV This Morning’s Dr Chris Steele MBE, Olympic sprinter Iwan Thomas MBE, and the English rugby league footballer James Roby.
All of the new Chair and Trustee appointments will be formally confirmed at the meeting of the Board of Trustees on 28 November 2020.