Maternity Unit and Special Care Baby Unit each receive Unicef Baby Friendly awards

Posted on: Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

Harrogate District Hospital’s Maternity Unit has become only the second in the whole of the UK to be awarded Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative Gold Award – plus the hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) has become the second in the whole of the UK to be awarded Unicef Baby Friendly Accreditation.

This combination of both a Gold award for Maternity and full accreditation for SCBU is the first of its kind in the whole of the UK.

Mum Hannah with baby Harrison and Special Care Baby Unit staff.

The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for mothers and babies. It is based on a comprehensive set of standards designed to provide parents with the best possible care to build close and loving relationships with their baby, and to feed their baby in ways which will support optimum health and development.

Harrogate District Hospital’s Maternity Unit has held full Unicef Baby Friendly Accreditation since 2002, with the Gold Award – set up in November 2016 – requiring extra work and development to further enhance standards of care and ensure long-term sustainability. Gold is the highest level it’s possible to achieve.

This involved ensuring 16 criteria are met, including a named Baby Friendly lead/team with sufficient knowledge and skills; support for ongoing staff learning and mechanisms in place to support a positive culture; and ensuring staff skills remain up-to-date. The Unit also needed to demonstrate it is responsive to change and can provide evidence of improved patient outcomes. These criteria are independently assessed by a Unicef representative.

SCBU’s full accreditation demonstrates the unit’s commitment to providing the highest quality care for the hospital’s youngest patients and their families.

To meet the standard, SCBU was judged against a set of criteria including supporting parents to have a close and loving relationship with their baby; enabling babies to receive breastmilk and to breastfeed when possible; and to value parents as partners in care. Again, these standards are independently assessed by Unicef.

Mum Haibo with baby Dylan and Maternity Unit staff.

Sue Ashmore, Programme Director, UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, said: “Harrogate is the first service in the country to receive both a Gold award for their maternity service and full accreditation for the neonatal unit. It is a fantastic achievement and a testament to, not only the hard work of all the staff, but to the innovative and ‘can do’ culture within the service. Not only have they improved the care of mothers and babies in Harrogate, the staff have also shown others what can be done, which will hopefully influence improvements in care for all mothers and babies in the UK.”

Alison Pedlingham, Head of Midwifery at Harrogate District Hospital, said: “I’m so proud of my colleagues in both the Maternity Unit and the Special Care Baby Unit. These awards are entirely due to their hard work and dedication to providing the best possible care for new arrivals, mums and their families. So much work has gone into these achievements.

“These awards give assurance to mums-to-be that we are completely focused on providing high quality care. Thank you to colleagues, and to mums and their families, for their part in these achievements. The challenge now is to continue our efforts and to maintain these high standards over the coming years.”


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Paul Widdowfield, Communications and Marketing Manager, [email protected] and 01423 557470.