Friday, July 29, 2011

Department of Health responds to Baby Milk Action email campaign

Over 1,000 people have sent emails to the Secretary of State for Health, Mr. Andrew Lansley, asking the Government to reconsider its decision to scrap its Infant Feeding Coordinator posts and its support for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. The response from the Department of Health is given below.

It is welcome that the Department of Health recognises the health benefits of breastfeeding and the savings to the National Health Service. However, the Government has not only failed to meet its obligations under the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, which it supported at the World Health Assembly, it is backtracking on action that had been taken.

Please sign the ePetition on the Prime Minister's website calling on the Government to deliver on its infant feeding obligations - click here. Petitions receiving 100,000 signatures will be debated in Parliament.

If you have not signed up to receive email alerts from Baby Milk Action, please do so now to be kept informed of the next steps in this and other campaigns.

Thank you for your email of **** to Andrew Lansley about infant feeding which was forwarded to the Department of Health on ****. I have been asked to reply.

The Department of Health is committed to supporting healthier choices, including breastfeeding, through the ‘Healthy Child Programme’ as set out in the Public Health White Paper ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People: our strategy for public health in England’.

The Department recognises the evidence-based health benefits of breastfeeding both for the mother and her baby and the savings to the NHS. The Department’s approach is to support all parents and parents-to-be with information to enable them to make an informed choice when deciding how to feed their baby.

Due to reduced budgets this year, the Department was unable to co-ordinate the National Breastfeeding Week and provide free resources for local events. However, support and information is currently available to health professionals and parents via NHS Choices, the National Breastfeeding Helpline, UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative and localpeer support programmes.

At present, the Department is reshaping the whole health and social care system, and looking at how this can work to deliver the best possible health and social care outcomes. Public health will remain a key component in all of this. It is important that organisations working to promote better health engage with all parts of the new health system as it develops to ensure that we make the most of the available evidence on infant feeding to drive the greatest health gains. The Department is also already actively encouraging local groups to nominate representatives from their networks to attend national meetings to continue to share positive practice and information on infant feeding. This will help the Department to ensure continued communication and support to the current infrastructure until the new system is operating.

The Department received a large number of responses to its recent consultation on the White Paper and the associated proposals for a new public health outcomes framework, and for funding and commissioning of public health services in the newly defined system. Responses to the consultation were used to inform ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Next Steps and Way Forward’, which sets out the key elements of the new public health system. This can be accessed at the link below:

Following this publication, the Department of Health will issue a series of policy statements including the final outcomes framework in the autumn.

I hope this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Customer Service Centre

Department of Health

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