As 2019 draws to a close, we want to thank everyone who has supported and helped the charity throughout the year – raising awareness of group B Strep, raising funds, or working with us to campaign for change. However you’ve been involved, our sincere thanks to each and every one of you for your support.
It’s been an incredible action-packed year and we think it’s really important to take a moment and reflect on some of the achievements you’ve made happen, and to outline our plans for 2020.
Highlights of 2019
January: Olympic Sprinter Iwan Thomas spoke to ITV’s This Morning about the terrifying ordeal he and his family went through after his newborn son Teddy developed a group B Strep infection.
February: We joined other experts from around the world for a meeting at Wilton Park. The three-day event led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Meningitis Research Foundation, was designed to set out what needs to happen to develop a global roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030, including preventing group B Strep infection.
March: We cheered on our amazing Team GBSS runners taking part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon. They were truly fabulous, raising over £1800 between them.
April: We cheered on our 12 London Marathon runners, who took on the iconic 26.2 mile course for us, and raised over £25,000. We also met with the Chair of the APPG on Premature and Sick Babies, David Linden MP to discuss ways group B Strep prevention could be improved in the UK. And we raised awareness of group B Strep meningitis as part of World Meningitis Day on 24 April.
May: The ground-breaking GBS3 trial was announced – it’s being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, after much lobbying from the charity. The trial will compare the effectiveness of the UK’s current approach to preventing early-onset group B Strep infections (identifying pregnant women with ‘risk factors’ for their baby developing the infection) with testing all women for group B Strep carriage, either at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy or at the start of labour.
The £2.8m trial will involve 80 hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland and the results will inform future group B Strep prevention policy in the UK. The trial is due to start recruiting in April 2020.
June: Prof Philip Steer, Chair of our Medical Advisory Panel, presented to a packed room at the prestigious Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) World Congress in London. He spoke about group B Strep during pregnancy and the growing problem it is in babies in the UK. We also moved offices – sad to leave the office we’ve spent more than 10 years at, but delighted to move just down the road to an office a world away in terms of facilities and office environment.
July: We had a huge range of awareness-raising activities going on as part of July’s Group B Strep Awareness Month. Highlights included encouraging the WHO to focus on group B Strep as part of their global plan to defeat meningitis by 2030, talking to over 30 MPs in Westminster about what they can do to improve group B Strep prevention, and taking part in a webinar with the RCOG on group B Strep
August: We had a great catch-up with Prof Philip Steer, the Chair of the charity’s Medical Advisory Panel, and to dig into why he’s so passionate about group B Strep prevention.
September: We attended a follow-up meeting to discuss the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030. The WHO have identified group B Strep as one of the top four causes of bacterial meningitis to focus on, and will be leading work internationally to prevent group B Strep infection. We have worked with the WHO and other stakeholders to shape this roadmap
October: We observed Baby Loss Awareness Week, remembering families whose babies sadly died as a result of group B Strep infection, and raising awareness about pregnancy and baby death in the UK. We were delighted that Junior Health Minister Nadine Dorries MP, a long-standing supporter of the charity from her time on the backbenches, announced that group B Strep prevention was her top priority on taking office.
November: Nadine Dorries announced that the GBS3 trial (see our entry for May, above) had cleared the final regulatory hurdles and will begin recruiting pregnant women in April 2020. We spoke at the Joint RCM/Sands/Bliss Transforming Loss conference (our 9th conference engagement this year), highlighting the latest guidelines on group B Strep and what this means for practice in the UK.
December: This has been a slightly quieter month, though two conferences, and with time to catch up and with many of the team enjoying a well-deserved Christmas break. However, group B Strep was again in the national news, and we’ll be working hard to keep it that way going in 2020 and beyond.
Looking forward to 2020
During 2020, we’ll build on the work we’ve done throughout 2019:
- We’ll launch a free online training module on group B Strep for midwives, in partnership with the Royal College of Midwives on their i-Learn platform
- We’ll work with the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health as we update our leaflets providing information on babies who developed group B Strep infection
- We’ll work with the Institute of Health Visiting to provide the information health visitors need to support the families in their care
- We’ll continue to improve awareness of group B Strep and encourage more hospitals to use our leaflets and posters, so that expectant and new parents are fully informed about group B Strep and able to make informed decision about their care
- We’ll support the launch of the GBS3 trial in April 2020, and support other clinical trials that will lead to better group B Strep prevention
- We’ll keep campaigning and engaging with politicians and government bodies across the UK to ensure group B Strep is a top priority, and all babies are given the best start in life
We will work tirelessly to stop group B Strep infection in babies, and to support families who have been affected.