Skilled health professionals are a fundamental building block for successful breastfeeding. Parents expect all healthcare professionals to have the knowledge and skills to help them overcome practical challenges and to offer them emotional support. The reality in the UK is that many have not received the training they need to do this, so parents do not always receive the support they need. While improvements have been seen, UK health professional training still shows gaps in training in infant feeding. Relevant, evidence-based training is needed for all those who work with women, infants and young children.
WBTi’s research has found numerous gaps in the pre-registration training in infant feeding in almost all UK health professional specialisms. Only midwifery training covers most of the topics on the WHO’s Educational Checklist on infant and young child feeding.
Alarmingly, the worst gaps are in the high level training standards for nurses, including paediatric nurses. Since the publication of our first report in 2016, there have been a few improvements in the training standards set for paediatricians and GPs, and our upcoming reassessment will be mapping these against the WHO checklist.
What can YOU do?
If you are a health professional, urge your governing body to strengthen the requirements on infant feeding in your professional standards and examinations by:
- Following Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) standards for universities in the pre-registration courses for student midwives and health visitors.
- Achieving university Baby Friendly Accreditation once the assessment standard has been reached.
- Adopting the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) learning outcomes for other health professional training
- paediatric/children’s nurses
- maternity support workers and nursery nurses)
Volunteer to help WBTi carry out the reassessment of UK health professional training standards.
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