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UK hospitals failing to follow guidelines on group B Strep

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Failures to follow national guidelines to prevent group B Strep infections in newborn babies is leading to a postcode lottery of care and opportunities to stop deadly infections being missed, a new report has found. Nearly 90% of hospitals in the UK are not using the recommended test for GBS carriage – which costs around £11- despite clear guidance issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Public Health England (PHE) that the test can significantly decrease false-negative results.

Group B Strep is the UK’s most common cause of severe infection in newborn babies, causing sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. Approximately 800 babies a year in the UK develop group B Strep infection in their first 3 months of life, 50 babies will die, with another 70 survivors left with life-changing disabilities. Most of these infections could be prevented.

Only a tiny number of NHS Trusts are following the key new recommendations around giving pregnant women information on group B Strep, offering testing to some pregnant women, and following Public Health England guidelines on testing for group B Strep. As a result, pregnant women face a postcode lottery, potentially receiving significantly different care from recommended practice.

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Source: Group B Strep Support, 1 February 2021

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