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To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to make testing of pregnant women in Scotland for group B streptococcal infection as described in UK Standards Microbiology Investigations: Processing Swabs for Group B Streptococcal Carriage available on request, and what the timetable is.

Answered by Michael Matheson (26/06/2013):

The Scottish Government is given independent advice by the UK National Screening Committee (NSC), the independent expert advisory group who advise ministers and the NHS in the four UK countries about all aspects of screening.

The NSC reviewed the policy for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) in November 2012. This review considered all the available medical evidence regarding the risks and benefits of screening all pregnant women. The Committee recommended that a national screening programme for Group B Streptococcus should not be introduced. The NSC will continue to keep screening for Group B Streptococcus under review and will consider the policy again in 2015-16, or earlier, if significant new evidence emerges.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) issued revised guidelines, ‘The Prevention of Early-onset Neonatal Group B Streptococcal Disease’, in June 2012. This recommends an approach to antibiotics administration based on maternal risk factors. NHS boards in Scotland are expected to follow professional guidance issued by the RCOG to identify which women, based on maternal risk factors, should be screened for GBS during pregnacy.

The UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations: Processing Swabs for Group B Streptococcal Carriage (SMI B58) endorses and supports the recommendations that only those pregnant women assessed as being at high risk should be tested. The document provides a recommended method for such testing.

Current Status: Answered by Michael Matheson on 26/06/2013