STAFF at Mugrove Park Hospital in Taunton are celebrating after the hospital’s ‘gold award’ for baby care was renewed for the fifth consecutive year.

The hospital’s maternity team were the first in the south west to win the gold award, which has been revalidated every year since.

In a statement a spokesperson for Somerset NHS FT, which manages the hospital, said: “The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, working with UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen parent-baby and family relationships. 

“Musgrove first received the accolade in 2019, becoming the only NHS trust maternity service in the South West to achieve the Gold status. The award recognises not only the team’s initial dedication to providing exceptional care but also their ongoing commitment to innovation, education, and continuous improvement. 

“The team has worked incredibly hard to support new parents and their babies in forming strong, loving bonds from the very start. Their dedication extends beyond the maternity unit walls, as they actively collaborate with other teams and organisations to ensure families receive the comprehensive support they need.”

Hayley Poulsom, who took on the role of infant feeding lead midwife in December, has shared the team's accomplishments over the past year that have enabled them to uphold a gold-standard service. She said: "Over the past year, we've consistently strived to deliver the best possible practices for both parents and babies, not only within our maternity unit but across the entire trust. 

“A key challenge we've faced is high staff turnover in maternity. To address this and align with UNICEF standards, we've implemented an efficient on-boarding training program that ensures new team members reach the wards feeling confident and prepared to deliver exceptional care. Additionally, our training programme is directly informed by the results of our monthly audits, allowing us to identify and address areas needing improvement.

“One big change that has happened in the last year was following our move to the new infant feeding hub. This created the perfect opportunity to provide a safe space for parents who have returned to work at the trust to express in privacy with a cup of tea. We have even had babies being 'delivered' to the hub so they could be breastfed during the day.

"We understand that a full breast can cause anxiety and discomfort, so by providing the feeding hub, we hope to show colleagues that we care and prioritise their health and wellbeing. As a trust, we completely respect all feeding choices and are grateful for their commitment to work and want to ensure both their health and their baby's well-being are prioritised.

“As a team we are incredibly proud to have sustained this high standard for the people that access our service. We are especially proud to have done so despite staffing challenges. 

“We will continue to advocate for the wellbeing of parents and their children, not just in breastfeeding, but also in fostering strong parent-child bonds and attachment.”