Irwin Mitchell Back ‘Why Guess When You Can Test?’ Campaign

Medical Negligence Lawyers Support Group B Strep Charity


Medical negligence experts at national law firm Irwin Mitchell are showing their support to a new campaign from Group B Strep Support launching in July to raise awareness about the importance of expectant mums being tested for the infection.

The ‘Why Guess When You Can Test?’ campaign wants to stop healthcare professionals having to guess whether a pregnant woman is carrying a potential harmful group B strep bacteria and give them easy access to the ‘gold standard’ ECM (enriched culture medium) test which is specifically designed to detect GBS.

Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing septicaemia and pneumonia, and is leading cause of meningitis in babies under three months. One baby a week died from the infection and one baby a fortnight who survives the infection is left with long-terms disabilities.

Most of these infections are preventable but the rate has not fallen for the past 10 years, despite well implemented ‘risk factor’ prevention guidelines. Risk factors have been shown to be poor predictors of whether a woman is actually carrying Group B Strep.

In the UK, the ‘gold standard’, ECM test is rarely available in the NHS – when a doctor requests a test for Group B Strep carriage, a substandard test is commonly used.

Expert Opinion
“It is concerning that one child a week died from Group B Strep infection when there is a test available to all mothers to help diagnose and treat it.
“We want to show our support and back Group B Strep Support’s campaign to help to raise awareness about the infection and encourage expectant mothers to have the ECM test.

“Through our work we see first-hand the impact undiagnosed GBS can have on babies and their families. Newborns can be left severely brain damaged due to being starved of oxygen as the infection takes over their bodies, and in can be fatal in some cases.”
Alison Eddy, Partner

Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive of charity Group B Strep Support, said: “Firstly, we need to be offering all pregnant women the ‘gold standard’ test for GBS carriage late in pregnancy as is routine in so many other developed countries. 

“Secondly, we need to be implementing a widespread education programme for expectant and new parents and their health professionals so that the key risk factors for GBS infection in babies, and risk factors for these, are identified early and acted upon.  So many health professionals feel they have too little information about GBS and too few pregnant women have even heard of it.

“The current UK prevention strategy has failed to reduce the rate of GBS infection in newborn babies since its introduction in 2003. The time for change is now.”

For more information on Group B Strep and the charity, please visit

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical negligence during your pregnancy, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.