7 January 2019
We are delighted that the new NHS Long Term Plan recommends UNICEF UK Baby Friendly accreditation across all maternity services and includes a focus on improved support for families with infants in neonatal care.
The plan highlights the importance of Baby Friendly maternity accreditation in supporting breastfeeding rates, stating that:
“All maternity services that do not deliver an accredited, evidence-based infant feeding programme, such as the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative, will begin the accreditation process in 2019/20. Only 57% of babies in England are currently born in an accredited ‘Baby Friendly’ environment. Our breastfeeding rates compare unfavourably with other countries in Europe. There is substantial variation between parts of England, with 84% of children breastfed at 6-8 weeks in London compared to 32% in the North East.”
We also welcome plans to redesign and expand neonatal critical care services, including a focus on the need to support “families during the worrying period of neonatal critical care. From 2021/22, care coordinators will work with families within each of the clinical neonatal networks across England to support families to become more involved in the care of their baby and invest in improved parental accommodation.”
This reflects the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly neonatal standards, which are designed to support neonatal services to put babies and their families at the heart of care, thereby helping families to develop close and loving relationships with their baby and valuing parents as partners in care.
The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative has the knowledge, credibility and infrastructure to work with an organisation the size of the NHS to put standards in place to make a difference to children’s lives across the UK. These plans present a fantastic opportunity for us to support more health services to transform their care – helping mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish, and enabling all families to develop close and loving relationships with their babies.
Find out more about the NHS Long Term Plan in full and see Chapter 3 for information on maternity and neonatal services.