The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) has guidance on group B Strep infection in newborn babies, which was last updated in September 2017. A national learning published earlier in 2020 by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) highlighted that the RCOG guidance was not being followed. This report from the Group B Strep Support reinforces these findings.
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.
Group B Strep Support recommends that the NHS prioritises the prevention of group B Strep infection in newborn babies. A key step towards this would be to ensure published national guidance from recognised expert bodies is adopted and implemented in a timely manner.
Group B Strep Support recommends that:
- All NHS Trusts/Boards adopt and implement the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists’ Green-top guideline on group B Strep promptly.
- All pregnant women are provided with a high-quality information leaflet on group B Strep as a routine part of their antenatal care.
- Pregnant women who had a positive test result for group B Strep in a previous pregnancy are offered the option of testing for group B Strep in the current pregnancy, or of being treated as a carrier this pregnancy.
- Where pregnant women are offered testing for group B Strep carriage, the GBS-specific enriched culture medium (ECM) test is offered late in pregnancy.
- All pregnant women with one or more recognised risk factors present are offered intrapartum antimicrobial prophylaxis which, when accepted by the pregnant women, is administered as soon as possible once labour has started.
- All new parents are informed about the key signs of group B Strep infection in babies to empower them to seek vital early treatment, which can save lives.