Halton's community midwifery, health visiting and family nurse partnership services, delivered by Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (Bridgewater), have retained Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation. The prestigious award is in recognition for the excellent support they provide to new mums.
Halton Children's Centre teams, provided by Halton Council, have also for the first time achieved the full accreditation standard for the award.
The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed. The award is given to health providers and hospitals after an assessment by a Unicef team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place.
The assessors' report for Bridgewater and Halton Council praised the excellent working relationship between services and mothers, the kindness of staff and the helpful support provided. Mothers interviewed by the assessors at the Children's Centres reported very positively about the guidance and help they were provided with.
Anne Doyle, Bridgewater's Assistant Director for Children's Services in Halton said:
"I am pleased that Unicef has commented so positively on the care that our Bridgewater health visitors, midwives and family nurses provide to families in Runcorn and Widnes. We are committed to supporting all new mothers so they can form a loving relationship with their baby. We provide information and advice on infant feeding as well as how to effectively communicate and respond to their child."
Councillor Marie Wright from Halton Borough Council added:
"Breastfeeding gives infants the ideal start in life . We're delighted that Halton's Children's Centres have been awarded this accreditation. It's a great reflection of the hard work the staff put in every day to support mums and families in Halton, supporting them to make informed choices and offering help when it's needed. Halton families can be assured that the infant feeding services offered by Bridgewater, the Children's Centres and the Council's Infant Feeding Team are of a high quality."
Cllr Tom McInerney, the Council's Executive Board member for Children, Young People and Families, says: "I would like to congratulate everyone at our Children's Centres for achieving full accreditation, which is richly deserved. They have worked so hard and are all totally committed to ensuring that every mother and baby gets the best possible care, help and advice. Families are warmly welcomed at our Children's Centres and receive caring, professional support at this crucial time in their lives. Well done to all involved."
"We are delighted that Bridgewater and Halton Borough Council have achieved Baby Friendly status," said Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director Sue Ashmore. "Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don't always get the support they need. Mothers can be confident that their midwives, family nurses and health visitors at Bridgewater will provide high standards of care and they will get a warm welcome at Halton's Children's Centres."
The achievement by Bridgewater and Halton Council staff, which ensures international recognition for the services provided in Halton for new mothers, was marked with celebrations at two children's centres on Friday 29 September. Staff and families attended Macmillan coffee mornings at both Kingsway and Halton Lodge Children's Centres to applaud the award success as well as raising money for the cancer charity.