Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust’s Health Visiting service, working in partnership with Leeds City Council and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, has been awarded gold status by Unicef for the care it provides to pregnant women and families across Leeds.
The service was already rated ‘outstanding’ through Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative but now, in World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2018), it can be revealed it has received further recognition.
The Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a mark of quality designed to help parents build close and loving relationships and feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development. It is based on a set of evidence-based standards for maternity, health visiting, neonatal and children’s centres services.
Gold accreditation reflects the high standards in Leeds and that the leadership, culture and systems to maintain them over the long term are in place.
Alison Ellis, Clinical Lead for the service - providing support to families before birth and up to a child’s fifth birthday - said:
“This is an amazing achievement that confirms that excellent standards have been embedded in our practice of supporting the women of Leeds in making fully informed evidence-based feeding choices and knowing where they can find support when they have feeding issues.
“The gold award not only demonstrates the continued hard work, pride and commitment of our service to offering excellent feeding practice, it demonstrates that our practice is well-supported by strong leadership and senior figures appointed as Baby Friendly Guardians, who are wider advocates supporting families in Leeds”.
Sally Goodwin-Mills, Advanced Health Improvement Specialist – Infant Feeding, Public Health, said:
“Implementing BFI standards in Leeds has meant huge change in practice over the years of this project which has only been achieved with the effort of so many working together in partnership.
“The dedication of practitioners has influenced an increase in the number of women choosing to continue to breastfeed, which in turn will contribute to helping improve health outcomes for the population of Leeds.
“The Health Visiting Service has much to celebrate in achieving Gold accreditation, currently one of only six services to have achieved this.”
World Breastfeeding Week aims to highlight the benefits to health and welfare of babies that breastfeeding can bring. The week’s theme is ‘Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life’.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:
“This award is something for city to be really proud of. The hard work of teams from across the city’s public health and NHS networks has really paid off.
“We want children to have the best start possible, a priority of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy, and I am sure the Unicef recognition is evidence mothers and their babies will see the benefits of breastfeeding for years to come.”
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