Pride in Pennine
Dr Val Finigan
UNICEF baby friendly standards course
02 April 2014

THE Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is to host the first north west UNICEF course for maternity healthcare professionals on taking baby friendly standards further.

The course will equip healthcare professionals responsible for maternity and postnatal services with knowledge and skills to implement changes around the move to new UNICEF standards.

‘Taking Baby Friendly to the next level: A course for infant feeding leads will take place at The Royal Oldham Hospital on 24 and 25 April and is open to healthcare professionals across the North West region.

Dr Val Finigan, consultant midwife in infant feeding, has been instrumental in developing the standards and bringing the course to Greater Manchester. 

She said: “Up until now all of the courses for the new standards were being delivered in London. Pennine Acute is a long standing accredited Baby Friendly Trust and therefore I decided it would be good to host a course here, making it accessible for those leads that are situated in the North West region of England.

“The course is designed for infant feeding leads with responsibility for implementing the Baby Friendly Initiative Standards in their area.  It will provide knowledge and skills for leads to understand how to integrate the revised standards into an established programme and to be able to use the new audit tools effectively.”

One course will be aimed at maternity and neonatal staff, and another at health visiting and children centre staff. The new standards are the result of a large consultation between academics, clinicians, policy makers, voluntary lay members and mothers.  They build on the previous standards which involve the ten steps and seven point community standards, but also reflect on the emerging evidence base on delivering best outcomes for mothers and babies in the UK.

Val said: “I was part of the team that drew up the new standards.  I was asked to be part of the group that were revising the standards as lots of new evidence has been published since the inception of UNICEF standards in 1994.

“I was proud to be part of this group and the new standards are really nice and have a real women-centred approach to them. There are mindful of women’s right to choose and to be supported with whatever decision the mother makes regarding caring and feeding of her infant. 

“The new standards have a focus on building maternal and infant relationship through pregnancy, birth and into early infancy. They are exciting and welcome, particularly for long standing accredited units such as ours at The Royal Oldham Hospital and North Manchester General Hospital.  They will provide the impetus for Pennine Acute Trust to move forwards and to apply for UNICEF advanced or beacon status to show how hard we all work and to have our work fully recognised.”

The new Baby Friendly Initiative Standards are: Stage 1: Building a firm Foundation; Stage 2: An educated workforce and Stage 3: Parents’ experiences.

Dr Val Finigan, has also been invited to become a topic specific member for the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) postnatal guidance update group.

Following an interview, Dr Finigan was successfully appointed and her role will be to provide information specifically related to mother-infant bed-sharing.  She will work with the NICE team to develop and comment on a review protocol, work alongside the full team to review evidence and draft recommendations, participate in discussions and decision-making processes.  

She will ultimately be involved in the final recommendations and production of the guideline and the implementation tools.