Scotland has become the first country in the UK to achieve full UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation in all of its maternity and community health visiting services, following NHS Lothian receiving the honour.
The accreditation demonstrates that health boards across the country are providing new mums and babies with the best possible support and care.
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell was joined by UNICEF UK programme director Sue Ashmore to present Lothian with its award and met with mums who had benefited from the health board’s Family Nurse Partnership programme, which gives young first time mothers support for breastfeeding.
Ms Campbell said:
“I am delighted to present this highly acclaimed award, which recognises the dedication and hard work of NHS Lothian staff. It is a great accomplishment for all those involved.
“With this award confirmed, Scotland has now achieved 100% accreditation in our maternity units and community partnerships due to the dedication and professionalism of our frontline healthcare staff, who are actively supporting, promoting and protecting breastfeeding in their local areas to help all babies and new mothers who want to breastfeed to do so for as long as they wish to.
“In addition to this, I am thrilled to meet some of the young mums in the Family Nurse Partnership programme who are currently breastfeeding their babies and, in some cases, have gone on to provide support to other new mums.
“It’s so important to highlight that there is breastfeeding support available all over the country, and it is particularly fitting to hear about their experiences during Scottish Breastfeeding Awareness Week.”
Sue Ashmore, UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative programme director, said:
“We are delighted that Scotland has achieved 100% Baby Friendly accreditation in maternity and community services. This is a wonderful achievement and we commend the strategic approach that the Scottish Government has taken to improving breastfeeding rates.
“We also congratulate Scotland on the results of the Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition survey, which showcase the impact that this work is having on families, particularly the rise in the number of babies receiving breastmilk at six months. We are finding the results extremely useful in highlighting the impact that Baby Friendly practices have on supporting breastfeeding. A key part of our advocacy work is a call for the reinstatement of the UK Infant Feeding Survey, and we will be using the Scottish survey as an example of best practice. Thank you for all your hard work and congratulations again on your achievement.”
Professor Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, said: “This is fantastic news for families in Lothian and a big thanks needs to go to the Infant Feeding teams and frontline Health Visiting and Family Nurse staff. We are making big differences and improvements and I know this will be a big boost to future plans to do even more.”
The Scottish Government funds UNICEF UK to deliver Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation assessments in maternity hospitals, neonatal units, community settings and universities that provide midwife and health visitor courses in Scotland. More than £80,000 was allocated in 2018/19 as part of the Scottish Government’s wider Programme for Government commitment to breastfeeding.
Scotland is celebrating the most progress in the UK in achieving the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly best practice standards.
The Baby Friendly Initiative’s accreditation programme is recognised and recommended in numerous government and policy documents across all four UK nations, including the NICE guidance. The accreditation is a nationally recognised mark of quality care for babies and mothers.
The staged accreditation programme trains health professionals in hospitals, health visiting services and children’s centres to support mothers to breastfeed and help all parents to build a close and loving relationship with their baby irrespective of feeding method. They also work with university midwifery and health visiting programmes to provide students with a strong foundation of knowledge on feeding and parent-infant relationships.
Whilst supporting breastfeeding is at the heart of the programme, Baby Friendly Initiative aim to raise standards of care for all babies, regardless of how they are fed.