Action is needed to prevent more heartache

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A BABY’S life could be saved for just £11.

But yet, despite years of campaigning, the NHS still has no plans to introduce testing to detect a life-threatening bacteria.

It’s a scenario which has caused frustration and anguish for Robyn Bennett.

Her baby daughter Sydney died aged only 22 days in April this year, having developed meningitis after contracting group B streptococcus (GBS) from her mother during birth.

Ever since that life-changing moment, Robyn has been fighting to raise awareness of the condition.

She also joined the crusade to convince authorities nationally that all mums should be tested to see if they have the bacteria.

It’s a campaign backed by Natalie Frost, whose daughter Ella was stillborn in 2011 after she contracted GBS.

Their plea is simple: Bring in a test that costs around £11 to see if GBS is present in pregnant women. If detected, antibiotics can be given during labour to stop the bacteria being passed on.

The calls continue to fall on deaf ears, however.

The National Screening Committee – which decides what conditions should be routinely checked for – says it does not plan to bring in the test as GBS is found in a quarter of all women and it is worried about the potential harm the test might cause.

We suspect that, as with everything in the NHS, the real reason behind the refusal is the costs involved.

An £11 test might seem pittance to save a life, but multiply that by the number of women in this country who fall pregnant each year and the sum becomes enormous.

The hope is that support for Robyn and Natalie from the likes of Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt will strengthen their cause.

Ms Mordaunt says: ‘We need to make sure other mums-to-be do not go through what Mrs Bennett is.’

Whatever the answer is to funding tests for GBS, that has to be the priority for all involved.

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