Publish date: 18 June 2024

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Queen Alexandra Hospital has been awarded stage two accreditation from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF UK) Baby Friendly Initiative. The accreditation is in recognition of the team’s hard work in supporting each other to care for mothers, families, and parents in a way that best supports everyone, particularly during those first few weeks.

The stage two accreditation comes three years after the unit, part of Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), was presented with a Certificate of Commitment in its first step towards gaining international recognition in its work to become Baby Friendly.

In the UK, the initiative works with health professionals to ensure that mothers and babies receive high-quality support. The accreditation recognises that the neonatal team at PHU is implementing Baby Friendly standards to support parents to have close and loving relationships with their baby, promote the use of breastmilk and breastfeeding and encourage an environment where parents are involved as partners in care. Teams are audited by UNICEF UK and many individuals who have received care on the unit shared their experiences with the team, as part of the accreditation process.

The accreditation recognises that the Portsmouth NICU is educating staff to follow the standards set out by UNICEF UK and supports mothers to express breastmilk, as well as building a close and loving relationship with their baby.

Alex Dawson, NICU Feeding Lead at PHU, said, “This accreditation shows how our staff have the knowledge to support the core foundations set out by UNICEF, in their worldwide accreditation process.

“I cannot stress how proud I am to work in Portsmouth NICU helping to support our families and staff. We are very proud of this achievement and what it means for mothers coming to have their babies with us. As a unit we always work hard to provide support and encouragement to the parents and their babies.  We know how much feeding means to our families, so to be recognised with this accreditation feels very special. I would like to show my appreciation to the wonderful, dedicated feeding team on NICU who have helped embed these standards of care within our team.” 

Tim Scorrer, Consultant Neonatologist at PHU praised how hard the team work to provide the best care for families and their babies. “We are very proud of our excellent outcomes for the babies we care for in Portsmouth. Supporting parents in their feeding choices, encouraging their involvement, and using good evidence is very important to us, and has been recognised by this achievement and the feedback we receive from parents.”

One mother who had twins at PHU, said “The NICU team at QA were a lifeline to me when I was struggling to breastfeed. They were my rock.  I cannot explain how grateful I am for having the team around me to support my breastfeeding journey to feed my twins. The support I had was brilliant.”

Liz Rix, Chief Nurse at PHU, added, “I am incredibly proud of how hard the NICU team have worked over the past few years to achieve stage two accreditation. The team are dedicated to identifying further ways to improve and should be proud of the vital role they play in providing a safe and supportive environment for those we care for.”