Simple test should be available on the NHS

Broadcasting legend'''Fred Dinenage    Picture: Malcolm Wells (141209-0357) PPP-140425-154506001

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Our hearts go out to grieving parents Michael and Natalie Frost. Their baby girl, who they named Ella, died in the womb after contracting group B streptococcus (GBS).

A simple test could have shown the presence of this bacteria and it could have been treated with antibiotics.

The cost? Just £10.

But the test is not available on the NHS, so Mr and Mrs Frost were never offered it. As a result they lost their beloved daughter before she was even born.

This is such a sad story and we can understand why the Frosts are backing a campaign for all pregnant women to be screened and treated if necessary.

Mr Frost says: ‘We lost our daughter to something that is preventable and that makes us very angry. Even if we had known about it and had a choice it would have been something. But because this didn’t happen we are left with a big hole in our hearts.’

Yes, we understand the NHS has budgetary pressures, but what price do you put on a child’s life? Because that is what we are talking about here. For the sake of £10, other parents must not have to go through what the Frosts have experienced.

According to charity Group B Strep Support, around 700 children are born with GBS each year after it is passed on to them via the mother during labour. Of those born, around 75 babies die from GBS. A further 40 are left with long-term mental or physical problems.

We support the charity in its efforts to raise awareness of the bacteria test among the public and the medical profession and urge people to sign an online petition to get the issue debated in parliament.

We also call on the National Screening Committee to reconsider what conditions are routinely checked for in pregnancy.

Director of programmes Anne Mackie says the effectiveness of introducing a screening programme for GBS has not yet been proven.

But the Frosts and others put in their tragic position would strongly disagree with that – and who can blame them?