Gold standard care for mums and babies

East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) provides world-leading advice and care to parents and babies – and that’s official.

The social enterprise has been reawarded UNICEF Baby Friendly Stage 3 (full) accreditation following an inspection by a team from UNICEF.

ECCH, which provides NHS community health services across Norfolk and Waveney, was originally given full accreditation in 2013 and the award was presented at the House of Commons. Only a handful of other organisations in the East of England have full accreditation.

In the course of the two day inspection UNICEF inspectors visited ECCH facilities and interviewed 32 mothers via telephone and face to face. 88% said they were very happy with their care and had no complaints or comments. None reported being unhappy. 100% of mothers who were surveyed confirmed that the information they were given about breastfeeding was helpful and they felt able to ask questions.

A UNICEF report following the visit said the fact that 90% of mothers have antenatal contact with an ECCH health visitor is ‘impressive’.

The report said: “Staff are highly commended for their knowledge and sensitivity to support parents to have close and loving relationships with their baby, promote breastfeeding and support mothers with feeding their baby.

“It was clear to the assessment team that pregnant women and new mothers receive a very high standard of care. Mothers generally spoke very warmly of the support they received from their health visitor.”

ECCH breastfeeding support is provided through its Health Visiting and Family Nurse Partnership services since Suffolk County Council decided to stop funding a dedicated Breastfeeding Service in April. These teams work with families from pre-birth and all staff are trained specifically to support and encourage mothers who make the choice to breastfeed. 

Director of Health Improvement and Children’s Services Julia Whiting said: “We are thrilled and proud that the UNICEF inspectors agree that our services continue to be worthy of the UNICEF Baby Friendly full award. It demonstrates we have excellently trained staff across the organisation who implement best practice in all they do.”

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 all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Re-assessment takes place every three to five years with the goal of ensuring standards are being maintained.