North Cumbria NHS celebrates providing better breastfeeding support
After equipping staff with the knowledge and resources to deliver the best possible care to breastfeeding mothers, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) has been accredited once again by UNICEF as well as contributing to Carlisle achieving bronze level in the ‘Sustainable Food Cities Award’.
Unicef’s ‘Baby Friendly Initiative’ (BFI) awards are considered the ‘gold standard’ of training and practice to promote breastfeeding for maternity, health visiting, neonatal and children’s centres services. These 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.
The Trust’s maternity sites at the Cumberland Infirmary, West Cumberland Hospital and Penrith Birthing Centre have now all received the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) stage 2 accreditation. All sites were awarded the stage 1 accreditation in 2016. The stage 2 status allows staff to effectively assist new mothers with more complex breastfeeding issues.
The award involved two assessors over two days interviewing all staff that come into contact with mothers and their babies, testing their knowledge on the complexities of breastfeeding. Staff had to answer all questions correctly in order for the Trust to obtain the stage 2 accreditation.
All staff who have contact with new mothers and babies- not just midwives, but neonatal staff, paediatricians and doctors – are educated to these standards.
The Sustainable Food Cities Award involved tackling a number of health issues that are prevalent in the Carlisle area. The Trust’s contribution was around lower than the national average levels of breastfeeding initiation and the move to improve this as demonstrated in the BFI award.
Helen Ferris, infant feeding co-ordinator at the Trust, was instrumental in educating the workforce to achieve this status and in contributing to the Sustainable Food Cities award. She said: “It’s important that mothers get the best possible start with consistent information from all the staff they come into contact with, rather than waiting for one specialist person to come along.
“By mobilising the workforce with the knowledge to support mothers in what is such an important and personal journey, really makes a difference to the service they receive from us.
“All staff worked incredibly hard to achieve this and their hard work is truly inspiring.”
Alison Atkinson-Budd, associate director of midwifery, said: “BFI supports mothers in whichever way they choose to feed their baby, and ensures the same high standards of care are delivered to them.
“This achievement is a fantastic step for our Trust, and I’d like to say a special thank you to every one of the staff who’ve taken time to immerse themselves in the training programme, and who now dedicate themselves to women in support of their feeding journey. We plan to continue this great progress and work towards the stage 3 accreditation next year as well as supporting any initiatives such as the Sustainable Food Cities Award in the wider community.”