Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s (ASPH) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been awarded the Stage 1 Baby Friendly accreditation from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI).
The unit, based at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, has received recognition from the global programme for the staffs’ efforts in supporting parents with feeding choices as well as helping them to develop close bonds with their new baby.
The report commended the unit for the resources and support for available for parents, stating - “there is a range of professional support for infant feeding, mental health and more practical elements of being on the unit as well as electronic information available on the unit’s Padlet and the hospital website. All information available is co-produced with families and their feedback and evaluation is taken seriously.”
Also highlighted, was the efforts of the Infant Feeding team and BFI Project lead to implement and progress the Baby Friendly program through working with the unit’s ‘feeding champions’ and “the development of an effective training curriculum for all staff”.
The Baby Friendly Initiative is a global programme which aims to transform healthcare for babies, their mothers and families as part of a wider global partnership between UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). In the UK, the Baby Friendly Initiative works with public services to better support families with feeding and developing close, loving relationships to ensure that all babies get the best possible start in life.
Ellen Bull, Interim Chief Nurse and Baby Friendly Guardian at ASPH, said: “It is wonderful that our NICU team has received this recognition from the BFI. I know the team is committed to working with parents to promote the value of breastmilk and taking the lead in their baby's care. We know that this helps to build close bonds between new parents and their baby. I look forward to working with the unit as they start to begin working towards achieving the Level 2 accreditation.”
In 2022, ASPH’s Level 3 NICU cared for 866 babies who were admitted to the unit. It is the only Level 3 NICU in Surrey, with a team which provides care for babies delivered from 22 weeks gestation to term, within the county, as well as from Kent and Sussex.
The Neonatal Unit received the BFI Certificate of Commitment in September, which recognises their dedication to implementing recognised best practice standards.