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Unicef UK President Kirsty Young visits Royal Devon and Exeter’s Neonatal Unit


Kirsty Young, President of Unicef UK, has visited the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to see first-hand what makes it so special after the unit became the first in the country to become Baby Friendly accredited last year. 

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 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, supporting them to feed their baby and to build close and loving relationships with them.

The full accreditation, which the unit achieved in February 2016, demonstrates the unit’s commitment to providing the highest quality of care for the hospital’s youngest patients and their families. 

Kirsty was joined on her visit to Exeter by Unicef Executive Director Mike Penrose, Call the Midwife Executive Producer Dame Pippa Harris and Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative Director Sue Ashmore.

During the visit, NNU staff took the opportunity to showcase the work they have put in to embedding the Baby Friendly standards across the Unit, including supporting parents to have a close and loving relationship with their baby and enabling babies to receive breast milk and breastfeed when possible, and highlighted the impact this has had for parents and babies who use their service.   

The group also took a tour of the unit and the RD&E’s maternity services, before meeting with several mums and babies to hear their experiences of the unit and learn how the positives changes brought by the Baby Friendly standards have made a difference to them. 


RD&E Senior Nurse for Neonatal Sue Prosser and Infant Feeding Coordinator Karen Read said: “The Exeter Neonatal Unit team were delighted to welcome Unicef UK. As a unit we are passionate about working in partnership with families and are pleased to be working so closely with our colleagues in Unicef UK. This visit was an opportunity for us to share our experiences and latest developments that we’ve made here in the Exeter NNU. Most importantly it was an opportunity for the team from Unicef UK to meet with parents and their babies and to hear their stories.”

Baby Friendly Programme Director Sue Ashmore said: “By implementing the Baby Friendly neonatal standards, RD&E are leading the way in transforming care for sick and premature babies. With 1 in 10 babies in the UK being admitted to a neonatal unit every year, it is crucial that neonatal care supports the best outcomes for these vulnerable babies and their families. It has been a pleasure to visit RD&E and show how they are giving these babies the best possible chance to thrive by enabling them to receive breastmilk and supporting their parents to bond with and care for them. We are delighted that Kirsty was able to join us and see this vital work in action.”

To find out more about Unicef UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative visit  

Added 28 September 2017

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