As 2023 draws to a close, we want to thank everyone who has supported the charity during the year. Whether you’ve raised awareness, funds, or worked with us to campaign for change, our sincere thanks to each and every one of you for your support.
It’s been a packed year, and here’s a quick summary of what’s been going on – we’re looking forward to what 2024 brings.
Highlights of 2023
January to March:
A new study found that a maternal vaccine against group B Strep infection would provide a significant impact on infant death and long-term disability and is likely to be cost-effective. The health and economic effects of vaccination of 140 million pregnant women and people worldwide in 2020 were assessed. It found that a 1-dose vaccine programme could cost $1.7 billion but save $385 million in healthcare costs, alongside saving lives and the trauma families affected by group B Strep go through.
A High Court ruling ensured that Adam Cheshire, who has a brain injury caused by a group B Strep infection at birth, will receive a payout from Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust to provide much-needed special care for the rest of his life. The Trust accepted 80% of the responsibility for Adam’s injury and acknowledged their failings in his care, which left him with multiple severe health problems and reliant on full-time support. Experiences like Adam’s are why the charity has an expert Legal Panel, all of the members of which we know have successfully dealt with clinical negligence cases relating to group B Strep infection.
April to June:
Group B Strep hit the small screen in the Emmerdale plotline when newborn baby Reuben developed a temperature of 40 degrees, refusing feeds and being withdrawn – all common signs of late-onset group B Strep meningitis. As our Chief Executive, Jane Plumb MBE, said at the time: “The storyline mirrors the real stories of late-onset group B Strep infection that occur almost daily in the UK. Early detection of these infections is essential for early diagnosis and treatment because late-onset group B Strep infections cannot currently be prevented but are usually treatable”
We saw a major step forward with NHS England’s new training standards requiring all maternity and neonatal staff to be trained on GBS in labour. This nationwide shift should tackle the postcode lottery of information and care families receive. We’re calling for similar training implementation across Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
July to September:
This was a whirlwind of activity, with July’s Group B Strep Awareness Month. We organised an event in Parliament to talk to MPs about group B Strep and the devastation it causes families. We shared new survey data that found that two-thirds of new and expectant mothers are not receiving any information about group B Strep from a healthcare professional, which was covered by the Independent and the Mirror.
Promising results from group B Strep vaccine trials were published. The vaccine proved safe for mothers and babies, with no significant side effects. We are hugely excited at the prospect of a safe and effective maternal GBS vaccine – this would minimise antibiotic use and prevent more GBS infections than our current prevention strategies.
We were pleased to see the launch of the Meningitis Flag, a collaboration with the Meningitis Research Foundation, the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), Sanofi, Studio Spring and inspiring para-athletes Théo Curin, Davide Bartolo Morana and Ellie Challis. Group B Strep is the leading cause of meningitis in babies under three months, and with our Chief Executive Jane Plumb MBE chairing CoMO’s Advisory Council, all of us at Group B Strep Support proudly fly the Meningitis Flag.
October to December:
We were proud to co-lead the Parent & Patient Voice stream lead at ISSAD, the global conference on group B Strep, which took place in Brazil in October. We were very grateful to the organisers who kindly sponsored our travel and accommodation for the event. Our Chief Executive Jane Plumb MBE spoke movingly in the opening session about her son Theo’s death as a result of group B Strep infection, and throughout the three-day event, families from around the world shared how group B Strep had affected them, alongside presentations from renowned experts providing updates on their latest research.
A new study from researchers at the University of Cambridge found that one in 200 newborns are admitted to neonatal units with sepsis caused by group B Strep, which is around ten times higher than the previous estimate. This is hugely significant, as it means the extent of the devastating impact group B Strep on newborn babies is much higher than previously thought, and highlights how important it is to measure accurately the number of these infections. Without understanding the true number of infections, we may not implement the most appropriate prevention strategies and cannot measure their true effectiveness.
2024 and beyond
Looking forward to 2024, we’re working hard on our annual conference, which will be held on Wednesday, 15 May 2024 (register your interest here) and on developing a new e-learning module for health professionals. Alongside that, we’ll be updating our website and getting involved in some new research around group B Strep So watch this space!
Thank you so much for all your support throughout the year, and we look forward to working together to stop group B Strep infection in babies and the devastation it can cause, in 2024 and beyond.