There was cause for cake and celebration in the maternity units at Epsom and St Helier hospitals recently, as the departments were both officially awarded Baby Friendly reaccreditation by UNICEF UK BFI assessors.
The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve and maintain the best standards of care for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, safe bottle feeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships.
Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive, said: “It was a privilege to join the celebrations for being reaccredited as a Baby Friendly Trust. We are extremely proud to have achieved this prestigious award, which reflects our absolute commitment to helping new families every day. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and say thank you to all staff members in both of our maternity units for their long standing dedication and hard work.”
Marion Louki, Director of Midwifery and Gynaecology, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been reaccredited (we were first accredited in November 2014) by UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly assessors, who conducted interviews with our clinical staff and with mothers themselves, to determine how far the standards are being implemented. These standards are designed to provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby and to feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development.”
Sue Taylor, Infant Feeding Lead at Epsom and St Helier, said: “Here at the Trust, we are committed to ensuring that mums-to-be and new mums get all the support they need by providing sensitive and effective care. We aim to answer any questions and give as much information as we can, to help them make an informed choice about infant feeding.”
Sue Ashmore, Programme Director, UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative said: “There is no doubt that this is an excellent result. The assessors noted that staff knowledge and skills is of a very high standard. They received excellent feedback from mothers about the care they received and while some noted how busy the hospital environment was, many mothers commented particularly about how kind the staff were and how willing they were to put in the time to support them with breastfeeding. A number of mothers commented that without this, they doubted they would have carried on breastfeeding. The overall outcome is great for all the mothers and babies served by the two hospitals.”
Sue Taylor added: “The Baby Friendly award is very hard accreditation to achieve as it requires genuine change and takes a tremendous amount of effort over a long period of time to maintain the high standards required. We are so proud that we have achieved the reaccreditation and as a Trust, we are now planning to go for the Gold Baby Friendly award, a recognition that the service is not only implementing the Baby Friendly standards, but that they have the leadership, culture and systems to maintain this, long term.”