National report highlights the risk posed by Group B Strep

Published on: 21/07/2020

A national report has been published by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch highlighting the life-threatening risk Group B Strep poses to babies. The learning report, published by the HSIB, looks at common themes around GBS (Group B Strep)  they found in their maternity investigations.

Experts at the Group B Strep Support charity welcome this report and encourage NHS Trusts to implement the report’s recommendations and findings. By doing this, they will reduce Strep B infections in babies in their hospitals and save lives.

The report found failures to follow national guidelines to prevent Group B Strep infections in babies. The report was compiled by the HSIB after identifying the risks associated with Group B Strep from maternity investigations they carried out across England.

Their report found common themes across their investigations, including:

. Mothers were not always provided with information on Group B Strep as recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG)

. Mothers whose newborn babies were at raised risk of developing GBS infection were inappropriately being encouraged to stay at home for as long as possible

. Positive GBS test results were not communicated to the mother or noted clearly in her records and, as a result, the recommended care and antibiotic treatment in labour were not given.

. The identification and escalation of care for babies who show signs of GBS infection after birth was missed, resulting in severe brain injury and death for some of the affected babies.

Health Care Professional’s opinions on the report’s results:

“Some of these tragedies may have been prevented had, for example, all expectant women been routinely provided with the information leaflet co-written by the RCOG and GBSS and if our ‘GBS Alert’ stickers were routinely used on the hand-held notes for all women known to be at higher risk of their newborn baby developing GBS infection.

Trusts must implement the learning from these tragedies throughout their hospitals and with their staff – until that happens, avoidable group B strep infections will continue to cause untold and preventable heartbreak to families.” 

Jane Plumb MBE- Chief Executive at Group B Strep Support


“We have published this national learning report as a crucial part of HSIB’s role is to ensure that learning is seen at a national level. It helps trusts across the country to examine their own processes, make changes to ensure the safety of mothers and babies in their care and prevent devastating outcomes for families.As our maternity investigations rapidly progress, we will keep the theme of GBS under review and consider a future national investigation to explore the issues further.”

Dr Louise Page- Clinical Advisor in the Maternity Team at HSIB


“This useful report highlights the need for improved training of health care professionals in the procedures necessary to reduce the threat of early onset GBS disease of the newborn.”

Professor Philip Steer- Chair of Group Strep B Supports Expert Medical Advisory Panel


Further information on the report and Group B Strep:


Click here if you would like to read the full national report by HSIB and see their other investigations into Maternity in the UK.

Click here for further information on Group B Strep and other pregnancy conditions on the MAMA Academy website.