A CAMPAIGNER has voiced her disappointment over a decision not to introduce life-saving screening for newborn babies.
Su Newton from Colchester has been raising awareness of Group B Strep since her daughter Emily nearly died from the infection at birth.
It is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia.
Mrs Newton has since called for the NHS to make testing for it for routinely available.
But now the UK National Screening Committee has recommended the Government should not introduce routine screening of pregnant women.
Mrs Newton said: "It is so hugely frustrating, that not only will they not advocate screening pregnant women, but there is not even any literature or information made available to families for them to make an informed decision about whether to obtain screening privately.
"Sadly, as in my situation with Emily, most families will only find out what GBS is and, crucially, that it could be prevented, after their baby has been affected. I just don't understand why the National Screening Committee continues to recommend against screening when other civilised countries, such as the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Italy have introduced screening and seen dramatic reduction in the incidence of GBS infection in newborns. "
Campaigners including Mrs Newton recently handed in a 290,000 signature petition to the Department of Health.
It called on Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies and the Chief Executive of Public Health England, Dr Duncan Selbie to ensure sensitive testing for Strep B is routinely and freely available for all pregnant women in the UK.
Colchester's MP Will Quince joined the campaigners.
Mrs Newton said Health Minister Philip Dunne had now responded to the petition.
She added: "Unfortunately, his response was also very disappointing and does not move the issue forward at all. He failed to address the content of the petition, the huge number of signatories or what action the department will take as a result of the petition. Mr Dunne's response simply summarises the current position and implies that the current position is acceptable."
Mr Quince said he had also written to Mr Dunne and will keep pushing the Government on the issue.