Unicef first for pioneering Bradford Neonatal team

BRADFORD’S dedicated Neonatal team has been honoured by Unicef for its pioneering work.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, based at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has become the first intensive care unit (level 3) in the UK to achieve the ‘Baby Friendly Initiative’ accreditation, set up by children’s charity Unicef and the World Health Organisation.

The ‘Baby Friendly Initiative’ is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for mothers and babies and to help them build close and loving relationships with their baby.

Consultant Neonatologist and Clinical Lead, Sunita Seal said: “This prestigious award is testimony to all staff who work tirelessly on the unit to provide such high quality care to parents and their babies.

“Accreditation is based on a set of interlinking evidence-based standards, and the accreditation programme is recognised and recommended in numerous government and policy documents across the UK, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance. It is a nationally recognised mark of quality care for babies and mothers.”

To meet the standards, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was judged against a set of criteria focusing on parent’s experiences of Neonatal services at BRI during a visit by ‘Baby Friendly’ assessors in December 2017.

Support parents

The Unit’s Breast-feeding Co-ordinator, Janette Westman said: “During the assessment, staff were able to demonstrate how they support parents to have a close and loving relationship with their baby, enable babies to receive breast milk and be breast fed when possible and value parents as partners in care.

“Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life.

“But however a mother chooses to feed her baby, she can be sure that she will be supported to form a strong, loving relationship with her newborn – through having maximum skin to skin contact and understanding how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond.”

Neonatal Matron, Kelly Young, added: “We have been working towards the award for the last three years, with staff training beginning in 2014.

“In 2016 we were one of only six neonatal units in the country who were successful in achieving charitable funding from the Burdett Trust, to support the unit in moving forward with the implementation of the neonatal standards. This is when we started working in earnest to implement the standards.

“It’s a wonderful achievement and the feedback from parents, which was included in the official report following the assessment, was heart-warming.”

Amazing staff

Feedback from families has included:

“There are no words to describe how amazing the staff are in this place”

“They (staff) are like my family and I trust them completely”

“My emotional health was looked after just as much as my baby’s physical health”

“The doctors help you understand what’s going on without using too many medical words”

This achievement comes in addition to the full Unicef UK Baby Friendly accreditation achieved by the hospital’s Women’s and Newborn unit in 2014.

Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director, Sue Ashmore, said: “We are delighted that Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has achieved full Baby Friendly status.

“Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers at BRI can be confident that staff there will provide high standards of care.”

Further information about the Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation can be found at www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/accreditation/maternity-neonatal-health-visiting-childrens-centres/