South West neonatal units lead the way in achieving Unicef UK Baby Friendly standards

Home > South West neonatal units lead the way in achieving Unicef UK Baby Friendly standards

Press release 20 March 2017

New funding from the South West Neonatal Network will help all neonatal units in the region to achieve the prestigious Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative award.

The units will be implementing Unicef UK neonatal standards and so improve care for the most vulnerable babies and their families from across the South West.

The standards involve:

  • Supporting parents to have a close and loving relationship with their baby by enabling and encouraging touch, talk and caring for their babies, supporting skin-skin contact, and responsive feeding.
  • Enabling babies to receive breastmilk and to breastfeed when possible, including discussing with parents the critical value of breastmilk for preterm and sick babies’ current and future health and development.
  • Valuing parents as partners in care, including allowing parents 24-hour access to their babies and aiming for parents to be seen as the primary care givers, with clinical staff providing specialised care while acting as teachers and supporters to parents as they learn to care for their baby.

The programme offers a unique opportunity of financial and practical support, with neonatal units receiving expert visits, support with staff training, auditing and project management, and support to cover assessment costs.

Sue Ashmore, Director of Baby Friendly at Unicef UK, said: “Each year in the UK, around 1 in 10 babies are admitted to neonatal units, having been born sick or premature. These babies are profoundly vulnerable, often facing serious challenges to their health and development. The parent-child relationship and breastmilk are vitally important to give these babies the best possible chance to thrive.

“The Baby Friendly Initiative makes a huge difference to these babies and their families, by recognising the lifeline that breastmilk, and close, loving, parent-child relationships provides. Even where the physical environment is challenging, a great deal can be done with some radical re-thinking and imaginative ways of working.

“The South West Neonatal Network is really leading the way in improving outcomes for some of the most vulnerable babies and their families in the South West.”

Rebecca Lemin, South West Neonatal Network Manager, said: “We are thrilled and proud to be the first Network in the UK to be able to support all of our Neonatal Units from across the Region to collectively work together to achieve the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative. We want to deliver high quality neonatal care in partnership with our parents and families and this programme will significantly support us in achieving such goals. We are also very excited to be leading the way nationally in providing family centred care and proud that we will be the first region in the UK to have all of our neonatal units Baby Friendly Initiative accredited.”

The funding will support nine out of the 12 South West units to implement the Unicef UK Baby Friendly neonatal standards. The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital was the first neonatal unit in the UK to be Baby Friendly accredited, and two more units, the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro and the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care, Bath are already working towards becoming Baby Friendly with help from the Burdett Trusts.

New funding will support the neonatal units at the following Trusts

  • Southmead, North Bristol NHS Trust
  • Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
  • St Michaels, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust
  • South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

For more information please contact: Clare Quarrell on 0207 017 1747 or [email protected]

About the South West Neonatal Network

The Network is the central point for neonatal communication and collaboration across the South West. We provide a safe, high-quality service for neonatal care across the region and seek to improve outcomes for all babies born and cared for within it, by developing and implementing seamless pathways for mothers and their babies, as well as common guidelines and policies. We measure the performance and attainment of units, collaborate with NHS England, agree the allocation of capital and revenue for neonatal care in the South West, and ensure that the input of parents and families is valued and considered in all aspects our work, and that they are seen as central partners in the provision of care for their child.

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About the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative:
Unicef works in hospitals and children’s centres to help new parents give their babies the love, care and nourishment they need to get the best start in life. Our Baby Friendly Initiative works with health professionals – from midwives to neonatal nurses –to make sure every new mum gets expert support to nurture and feed their baby, whenever they need it. As part of a wider global partnership with the World Health Organization, the programme has revolutionised healthcare around infant feeding and parent-child relationships for all babies and mums. In everything we do, the mother and baby are our sole priority, because we know that the first days and weeks of a child’s life can determine his or her future.

For more information visit

About Unicef UK:
Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories, including the UK to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.

For more information visit

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