Sunday, 29 January 2017

Mother Backs Plea for Screening

Following our visit to London last Monday to deliver a petition to the Department of Health asking for GBS Screening to be offered to all pregnant women in the UK, our local papers The Shropshire Star and the Telford Journal ran the following story:

Monday, 23 January 2017

Joining Bereaved Parents in Delivering 250,000-Strong Petition

Today, I joined Fiona and Scott Paddon and many other supporters of Group B Strep Support in London.  We were delivering a petition, started by Fiona, to the Department of Health asking them to introduce GBS Testing for all pregnant women in the UK.  The petition has over 250,000 signatures on it and represents the voices of many thousands of people who believe it is time, and past time, to address this issue.  

Fiona spoke movingly of the tragic death of her son, Edward, at just nine days old as a result of a preventable GBS infection.  This is of course an issue so close to my heart as my own son, Adam, is profoundly disabled as a result of his battle with Group B Strep Meningitis - which could also have been simply, safely and affordably prevented.

It was an honour to be joined by Sir Nicholas Soames MP, Matthew Pennycook MP, Will Quince MP, and Sir Peter Bottomley MP, all of whom have lent their support to this issue. It's not too late to sign - please add your signature to the petition where you can find details below.

The event was also featured on Channel 5 News,

BBC Look South were there and you can see their report (from 4:10) here:

The issue was also featured on Sky News which you can find here:

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Group B Strep Support logo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Monday 23rd January 2017
  • Fiona Paddon (who started the petition)
  • Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich & Woolwich (Fiona's MP)
  • Sir Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex (GBSS Patron)
Fiona Paddon:
"I started this petition because I could not bear the thought of others suffering the needless loss and heartache we have experienced by losing our beautiful son, Edward, due to group B Strep.

The level of support it has received is well beyond any target I could have imagined and today, I feel that I am here to speak with the force of quarter of a million voices to those with the power to stop GBS from wrecking any more lives. To them I say – make that change right now; action the petition’s objectives today and help prevent the heartbreak of baby loss to GBS."

Matthew Pennycook MP:
“The heartbreak that my constituents Fiona and Scott have gone through after the loss of their son, Edward, is unimaginable. I fully support their calls on the Government to inform all expectant parents about group B Strep and offer all women testing for group B Strep in pregnancy.”

Sir Nicholas Soames MP:
“For too long the UK has trailed behind our peers on how we reduce group B Strep infection in babies. Yet more and more families every year are suffering the devastation that avoidable group B Strep infection can bring.

I applaud Fiona and Scott for their brave work, following the tragedy of their son’s death from group B Strep infection, to get the Department of Health to see sense. We must change what we do – by informing all expectant parents of group B Strep, and offering women the opportunity to be tested in pregnancy – to reduce these awful infections in newborn babies.

I’m delighted that Fiona and Scott are working closing with the charity, Group B Strep Support, of which I am Patron, who work tirelessly to achieve this aim.

If we continue what we’ve always done, we will get what we have always got – and in the UK that is a higher than necessary and rising number of potentially avoidable group B Strep infections in newborn babies, resulting in too many families suffering unnecessarily the trauma of infant death, disability or illness.”

Bereaved Parents to Deliver 250,000-Strong Petition to Department of Health Calling for Action to Protect Newborn Babies

Bereaved parents, Fiona Paddon and Scott Bramley, today deliver a petition of over 250,000 signatures to the Department of Health, Richmond House, Whitehall, Monday 23rd January 2017 at 11am.

Their petition calls on Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, the Chief Medical Officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies and the Chief Executive of Public Health England, Dr Duncan Selbie to ensure sensitive testingfor group B Streptococcus (GBS or Strep B) carriage is routinely and freely available for all pregnant women in the UK. Routinely offering these tests could prevent over 80% of GBS infections in newborn babies born to women carrying the bacteria, and would cost just £11 per test.

Group B Strep is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia. Carried normally by one in every four women, the group B Strep bacteria can pass from a pregnant woman to her baby around birth with potentially devastating consequences for the baby.
On average in the UK;
  • One baby a day develops group B Strep infection
  • One baby a week dies from group B Strep infection
  • One baby a fortnight survives group B Strep infection but is left with long-term disabilities
Yet, unlike most other developed countries, health professionals in the UK rarely tell pregnant women about GBS and only rarely offer sensitive testing.

Jane Plumb MBE, CEO of national charity Group B Strep SupportMatthew Pennycook MP (Fiona and Scott’s MP) and Sir Nicholas Soames MP (Patron of Group B Strep Support) plus other parents affected by group B Strep, join Fiona and Scott to deliver the petition.
Scott, Fiona and baby Edward
Fiona Paddon gave birth to her son Edward after a gruelling 34 hour labour, followed by an emergency C-section under general anaesthetic.

Coming to from the general anaesthetic, Fiona’s nightmare continued – she was told that Edward had been born very sick with a group B Strep infection; he had been pale, floppy and unresponsive. The doctors had transferred him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for cooling treatment, as he had brain damage from a lack of oxygen to his brain.

Following this treatment, Fiona and Scott waited anxiously for the results of an MRI scan of his brain. Sadly, this confirmed their worst fears – Edward’s brain had suffered so much damage that he could not breathe on his own. There was no chance of recovery.

Fiona and Scott took the heart-breaking decision to turn off Edward’s ventilator. He passed away 12 hours later, at just nine days old. Edward is Fiona and Scott’s first and only child.

Had Fiona been tested for group B Strep during pregnancy and offered antibiotics in labour, it’s almost certain Edward would be alive and well today.

Fiona Paddon says: “It's almost impossible to think that your baby will die and to be told that I could have been tested, and then successfully treated, for the very thing that killed Edward is almost too much to bear"

“If I had been tested, I would've been given antibiotics in labour which almost always prevent tragedies like ours.”
Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support adds,
“More and more babies are suffering devastating group B Strep infections. Yet in other countries, most of these infections would be prevented. Our babies deserve better.

Fiona's petition is especially timely - the UK National Screening Committee looks likely, again, to refuse to introduce a group B Strep screening in the UK, but to wait for yet more research. If that's their decision next month, they'll condemn more families to the pain and devastation of their babies suffering preventable and sometimes devastating group B Strep infections.

This petition shows just how much the public is behind this. Isn't it a no-brainer that women should be given information about group B Strep, and offered the opportunity to be tested for it in pregnancy? This is international best practice. Why is it not happening in the UK?"

National charity Group B Strep Support campaigns for greater awareness of group B Strep in new and expectant parents and wants every pregnant woman in the UK to be given accurate information about group B Strep as a routine part of antenatal care, coupled with the offer of testing for group B Strep carriage at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy.

For information on group B Strep, please visit

Notes to Editors:

  • *Sensitive testing refers to Enriched Culture Medium (ECM) testing, recognised as the international gold standard, and designed specifically to detect group B Strep carriage. This contrasts with the standard, non-specific test usually used within the NHS and which has a high false-negative rate, missing around half the women carrying group B Strep.
  • Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies and meningitis in babies up to the age of 3 months, passing from mother to baby during labour and birth.
  • 20% to 30% of women carry group B Strep, usually without harm or symptoms. Identifying pregnant women likely to be carrying group B Strep infection and giving them intravenous antibiotics (usually penicillin) during labour can reduce group B Strep infection in newborn babies born to women carrying group B Strep by up to 90%.
  • By 2014, the number of newborn babies developing group B Strep infection had risen by 33% since the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists 2003 prevention guidelines were introduced. These guidelines (updated 2012) had been expected to reduce the incidence of early-onset group B Strep infection significantly – by up to 60%. This has not happened (see Data Series).
  • Even with the best medical care one in 10 babies of babies sick with group B Strep infection dies, one in 20 of the survivors of group B Strep infection suffer long-term problems, with five in 10 survivors of group B Strep meningitis suffering long-term mental and physical problems, including cerebral palsy.
  • Routine testing of all pregnant women in the UK for group B Strep carriage is not currently recommended by the UK National Screening Committee.
  • Carrying group B Strep at delivery is the key risk factor for group B Strep infection in babies. Determining whether a pregnant woman carries group B Strep late in pregnancy (35-37 weeks) is a better indicator of a baby’s risk of developing the infection than risk factorsOther countries which routinely screen have seen falls in the rate of these infections in newborn babies by up to 86%.
  • Providing the test on the NHS would cost £11 per test. Private, home-testing kits are available from under £40. Visit Testing
Copyright © 2017 Group B Strep Support, All rights reserved.

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