Last week was International Baby Loss Awareness Week and as part of marking that, the House of Common held the first ever debate on issues around the UK's stillbirth rate and the care offered to bereaved parents along with what is being (or needs to be) done to reduce the numbers. Many of the MP's present shared heart wrenching stories of their own children who had died and their ongoing pain over these bereavements.
And then, MP Nicholas Soames, who is one of the patron's of Group B Strep Support spoke to the House about the work of Group B Strep Support and how much more needs to be done to prevent these infections. He was (quite rightly!) very complimentary about the work of the charity and founders Jane and Robert Plumb, sharing the story of their son Theo's death just over twenty years ago from Group B Strep.
He reminded the House how shocking the statistics are: on average, one baby a day becomes infected with Group B Strep in the UK, one baby a week will die and one baby every two weeks will survive with long term disabilities.
Then he said these words, which had me wanting to stand and cheer:
"I do have what can only be described as issues with the Department of Health on this matter...most of these infections could and should be prevented. The parents of these precious babies and their wider families then have to live with the consequences of their babies unnecessarily horrible illness for the rest of their lives."
He then continued by reminding the House that the government has unnecessarily delayed introducing GBS screening with these words:
"I have represented this issue to governments of both complexions and I have to say that it has been an uphill, generally unrewarding and pretty lowering experience...since 9th July 2003, I have dealt five Ministers, all of whom have promised prompt action on this issue, and all of which have been unacceptably slow for reasons which I, the charity, parents involved in this issue and, I think, mothers to be would find pretty hard to understand in any objective examination..."
This speech is worth watching in it's entirety and I genuinely hope that raising awareness in Parliament will add pressure to get things moving on publicly funded Group B Strep testing for pregnant women.
It's time and past time.
You can see his speech on Group B Strep Support's website here: http://gbss.org.uk/latest-news/sir-nicholas-soames-tells-parliament-group-b-strep/