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Leeds service receives prestigious Unicef gold award

 Mother breastfeeding baby

During World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2019), it can be revealed that Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust’s Health Visiting Service, part of the 0-19 Public Health Integrated Nursing Service, has been re-awarded gold status by Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) for the care it provides to pregnant women and families across Leeds. 

Working in partnership with Leeds City Council and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust this is the second year in a row that the service has been awarded gold status. Maintaining this status reflects the continuous high standards in Leeds. It is one of only six services in the country to be awarded gold accreditation.

Alison Ellis, Clinical Lead for the service, 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.”

The UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) standards are designed to support infant feeding practice, as well as parent and infant relationships. BFI supports parents to have close and loving relationships with their baby and feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development.

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 service has much to celebrate in achieving gold re-validation, this is evidence that key standards are truly embedded”

The theme of World Breast Feeding Week this year is ‘Empowering parents, enabling breastfeeding’ and focus is on supporting both parents in order to realise their breastfeeding goals. This involves providing un-biased, evidence-based information and support to create an environment where mothers can breastfeed. 

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “This award is something for the 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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