Ask the UK Government not to abandon mothers and babies

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The UK Department of Health is planning to scrap its Infant Feeding Coordinator posts and its support for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. Please send a message to the Secretary of State for Health asking him to reverse this decision, not least to save taxpayers money at this time of limited budgets.

Update 10 February 2013: The Department of Health scrapped the posts and its support for Breastfeeding Week in 2011. 

Many countries have similar posts as part of their commitment to the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and the Innocenti Declaration. This work is being stopped in the UK to help cut the country's budget deficit, but will lead to medium and long-term costs to the health service and growth in health inequalities. The National Health Service spends millions of pounds every year treating some of the extra illness amongst formula fed babies (according to NICE, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence).

The Department of Health was not only promoting and supporting breastfeeding, it was working to help mothers who bottle feed. The Infant Feeding Coordinators have just updated the guide to bottle feeding that Baby Milk Action used the basis for the guidance in the Infant Formula Explained DVD produced with partners in the Baby Feeding Law Group (alongside guidance from the World Health Organisation). The DVD is in line with the updated guidance and suitable for use in UNICEF Baby Friendly accredited facilities.

Please complete the following form that Baby Milk Action will forward to the Secretary of State for Health. We will email you with news of progress (you can unsubscribe from our email alerts at any time).

Suggested message:

Dear Mr. Hunt,

I am contacting you to ask for your urgent intervention in plans at the Department of Health to abandon important work on infant feeding.

The work the Department of Health was carrying out in promoting National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and through the national and regional Infant Feeding Coordinators - all of which were scrapped in 2011 - have been important in improving breastfeeding rates.  As NICE has calculated, even small increases in breastfeeding rates save the NHS substantial sums of money due to reduced rates of illness.

Breastfeeding also plays an important role in reducing health inequalities.

The infant feeding team has also conducted valuable work to reduce illness in babies fed on formula through the production and dissemination of information on how to reconstitute powdered formula correctly.  

While there may be immediate savings in cutting this work, the taxpayer will have to foot the bill for the unnecessary suffering that may result.  

It is welcome that the proposed Public Health Outcomes Framework includes indicators for breastfeeding rates. It is very important that this data continues to be gathered, not least to show the areas of the country where resources can most effectively be targeted. If there is any move to remove these indicators from the Framework, people may question if this is to hide the impact of the cuts being made to the infant feeding work at the Department of Health. I ask that you resist any suggestion to remove these indicators.