Health Visiting services in Sutton (the team of registered nurses who support families with children aged 0-5 in the community) are one of the first in London to receive the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative Gold Award.
The service, provided by Sutton Health and Care – an innovative alliance of health and care organisations in Sutton, is one of a small number of community services to have received the Gold Award. The award is recognition that not only is the service providing the best standards of care for mothers and babies, but that it has the leadership, culture and systems in place to maintain this over the long term.
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 and maintain the best standards of care for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, safe bottle feeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships.
Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council and Chair of the Council's Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "The health visitors at Sutton Health and Care work incredibly hard to ensure that all babies and new parents in Sutton get the best start in life. I'm delighted that their efforts have been recognised by UNICEF with this award. The work they do is so important in making sure that Sutton remains a great place to raise a family."
Head of Children’s Services for Sutton Health and Care, Jenny Giles, said: “I am extremely proud of our Health Visiting team. This award is recognition of all the team do to support our local families.
“Whilst we encourage mothers to breastfeed and will support them throughout their breastfeeding journey, we know that breastfeeding is not right or possible for everyone, and are committed to helping parents make an informed choice about feeding methods and supporting then to build a close and loving relationship with their baby.”
The Baby Friendly programme sets standards for health professionals to follow and has an assessment and accreditation scheme to support the implementation of the standards. In the UK, it is recommended by both the Department of Health and NICE as an effective intervention to improve public health. The Baby Friendly Award is a nationally recognised mark of quality care.
For more information about Health Visiting services in Sutton, please visit www.suttonhealthandcare.nhs.uk/health-visiting-service.