Group B Strep Support welcomes the Government’s publication of a Long Term Plan for the NHS, and the increased funding of £20.6bn by 2023/4.

The Government aims to achieve 50% reductions in stillbirth, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality and serious brain injury by 2025, including the rolling out of the Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle throughout England in 2019 and an increased focus on preventing preterm birth. We encourage this ambition, and believe it is crucial that group B Strep prevention is improved as part of meeting this target.

We welcome the working with midwives, mothers and their families to implement continuity of carer so that, by March 2021, most women receive continuity of the person caring for them during pregnancy, during birth and postnatally. Women who receive continuity of carer are 16% less likely to lose their baby, 19% less likely to lose their baby before 24 weeks and 24% less likely to experience pre-term birth.

We are pleased to see a commitment that the NHS will continue to improve how it learns lessons when things go wrong, and minimise the chances of them happening again. As we know from our recent report on clinical negligence relating to group B Strep, The cost of group B Strep infection, key factors in making these claims are:

  • Failure to follow either local or national guidelines
  • Failure to escalate cases appropriately
  • Missed signs of infection, either in hospital or reported by parents

Learning lessons from cases where things go wrong will reduce not only the costs of group B Strep infections in babies, but also the associated clinical negligence costs, and not forgetting the significant emotional costs of these preventable infections.

The plan sets out an ambitious roadmap for supporting the NHS to ensure that the UK is the safest place to have a baby. Improved prevention of group B Strep infections in babies must be a part of this roadmap.