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Medical lawyer supports petition calling for antenatal screening for GBS

Emmalene Bushnell attends handing in of petition to Department of Health

Group B Strep petition

2 February 2017

Medical lawyer Emmalene Bushnell joined charity Group B Strep Support, bereaved parents Fiona Paddon and Scott Bramley, MPs, and other families and supporters to deliver a 256,000 signature petition to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, the Chief Medical Officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies and the Chief Executive of Public Health England, Dr Duncan Selbie.  

Group B Strep Support is backing the petition with is calling for all pregnant mothers to be tested for the Group B Strep infection to avoid the needless death of babies from this infection.

On average one new-born baby a day develops Group B Strep infection in the UK and one baby a week dies from this infection.  It is the UK’s most common cause of bacterial infection in new-born babies, and of meningitis in babies under three months.  

Emmalene has acted for a number of families whose babies have contracted Group B Strep and the firm has submitted a response to the National Screening Committee on antenatal screening for GBS. 

If antenatal screening was available for GBS, mothers identified as carrying the infection would be administered antibiotics during labour to prevent the cross-infection of new-born babies with the infection. 

Instead the UK uses ‘risk factors’ to guess which pregnant women might be at risk.  

Babies that survive Group B Strep infections are often left with long-term disabilities.

Emmalene Bushnell, medical lawyer at Leigh Day, said:

“It was a privilege to be able to attend the handing in of this important petition.  By simply screening pregnant women for the presence of Group B Strep infection the needless death of many new-born babies could be avoided. I hope that the Department of Health and Public Health England take swift action to initiate an antenatal screening programme for Group B Strep infection.”

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