Tuesday, 13 December 2011 -

West Middlesex has become the first maternity unit in London to achieve full accreditation as a Baby Friendly hospital, meaning that the care given to mothers and babies around infant feeding has been assessed and has reached internationally recognised standards.

The globally reknowned Baby Friendly Award from UNICEF (United Nation’s Children’s Fund) is given to health care units after an assessment by a UNICEF UK team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place. The West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust has been given the full Award after being assessed at level 3, and after becoming the first in London to achieve level 2 last year.

At a ceremony held on 13 December, UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Director, Sue Ashmore presented the award to West Middlesex University Hospital.

Sue said: “It is such a thrilling moment to see the first London maternity unit gain the Baby Friendly Award. I know that staff at West Middlesex have worked long and hard to reach this stage, and I understand what determination and teamwork it takes to gain accreditation. Best of all, this means that mothers in this part of London should get consistently good support to feed their babies and get them off to the very best start in life.

”Implementing the Baby Friendly standards has been independently proven to raise breastfeeding rates through improved practice and staff training. This is so important because breastfeeding carries so many benefits to both mother and child. Breastfeeding protects babies from many illnesses, such as chest infections, stomach infections, obesity and diabetes, but is also important for the child’s developmental and cognitive outcomes, as well as giving the mother protection against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis in later life.”

She added: “The Baby Friendly Initiative also sets out standards of care for mothers who bottle-feed, so that they are equipped with knowledge and information to help feed and nurture their baby.”

Tonie Neville, Head of Women’s and Children’s Services, said: “We are absolutely delighted to get this award. It clearly demonstrates that we are dedicated to promoting the benefits of breastfeeding and giving mothers the support and help they require. Winning this award is a real team effort, as we couldn’t have achieved it without the commitment of all our staff.”


Notes to Editors

For more  information or to arrange an interview, please contact Alicia Jones at UNICEF UK Media Office on 07738 014271 or aliciaj@unicef.org.uk

Facts and figures:

Last year 4,760 babies were born at West Middlesex.

On average around 85 per cent of mothers will have started to breastfeed when they leave the hospital after giving birth.

The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. It was established in 1992 to encourage maternity hospitals to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and to practise in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

There are now 74 fully accredited Baby Friendly units across the UK. West Middlesex is the first London hospital to gain the award.

The Baby Friendly Initiative works with the health-care system to ensure a high standard of care in relation to infant feeding for pregnant women and mothers and babies. Support is provided for health-care facilities that are seeking to implement best practice, and an assessment and accreditation process recognises those that have achieved the required standard.

The journey to full baby friendly accreditation began for West Middlesex over seven years ago when the Trust first registered its commitment to becoming a baby friendly hospital with UNICEF.

This led in 2007 to level 1 accreditation, which ensures there are policies and mechanisms in place to enable the Baby Friendly best practices to be implemented and maintained.

Level 2 accreditation, achieved in 2010, assessed that the knowledge and skills of staff are competent to implement best practices effectively. West Middlesex staff achieved a maximum pass mark of 100% in their knowledge of the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

Level 3, full accreditation, focuses on ensuring that the Baby Friendly standards implemented for all pregnant women and new mothers. The Stage 3 assessment involved Baby Friendly assessors visiting our maternity unit and interviewing pregnant women and new mothers about the care they have received. The maternity unit will be reassessed on an annual basis to ensure it maintains the standards required by the Baby Friendly Initiative.

West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust is a major acute hospital near Twickenham, West London. It provides a full range of services to residents of the London Boroughs of Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames. Our imperative is to meet the changing needs of our local community through genuine commitment to providing high quality care in every respect.