Published on: 23 May 2022

A Neonatal Unit has made the first move towards reaching an international standard as they work to give little ones the strongest start in life.

The team at Sunderland Royal Hospital is leading the way to achieving the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative.

Neonatal - UNICEF Baby Friendly Standards (1).jpegSouth Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Ken Bremner MBE and Claire McManus, its Divisional Director of Family Care, have signed the Certificate of Commitment Accreditation, signalling the start of the work. 

The initiative designed for neonatal units covers three areas; supporting parents to form close and loving relationships with their baby, to value them as partners in care and enable babies to receive breastmilk and to breastfeed when possible.

The team has already set to working on its plans, which will include an education programme for staff and another to support parents and their experiences.

Part of the work will include more privacy screens to use while breastfeeding, with mums to be encouraged to express and feed at the cotside, pumps and reclining chairs and other additions and facilities to make it more homely for them.

Funds raised by kind hearted supporters through the Mini Miracles arm of the Trust’s STS Charity will be used to help buy the new equipment and furniture.

The team will also build on the support already offered to parents, including skin-to-skin contact, with the agreement signed as the unit led a week of awareness in the lead up to Kangaroo Care Day on Sunday, May 15.

Certificates were handed out to parents who joined in, with a grand total of 106 hours totted up between 20 babies being cared for by the department during the course of the week, while displays were created for staff and visitors to read. 

Melanie Johnson, Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, was on hand to see certificate being signed.

She said: “UNICEF’s Baby Friendly standards give us a clear roadmap in terms of how services can be set up to support parents as they breastfeed and help families build a close and loving relationship with their baby.

“This accreditation will build on the excellent work of our Neonatal Unit and see us invest further training and education for our staff, because it is so important we continue to learn.

“I know a lot of work has already gone into getting us to this stage and a great deal more will be needed to help us progress through all three stages. We have taken this first step and are focused on achieving the standard, putting parents right at the heart of the care we offer to their new arrivals.”

Neonatal - UNICEF Baby Friendly Standards (2).jpeg

Chief Executive Ken Bremner MBE and Divisional Director of Family Care Claire McManus signing the agreement with, from left to right, Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practioner Amie Thompson, Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Melanie Johnson, Staff Nurse Mia Villamala, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Ward Manager Emily Cameron,  Northern Neonatal Network Care Coordinator Claire Campbell and Neonatal Consultant Lorna Gillespie.

More details about the work of the Trust’s charity can be found by clicking here.