Bliss can confirm that we have been approached by Nutricia Early Life Nutrition - a company which produces specialist preterm fortifiers and preterm formulas - with an offer of an unrestricted educational grant to fund training workshops for neonatal healthcare professionals in 2018/19. Bliss’ focus remains on ensuring that every baby born premature or sick in the UK has the best chance of survival and quality of life, and our training for health professionals is a key part of our work towards this aim. Funding of this sort would allow Bliss to reach even more health professionals, improving the outcomes for premature or sick babies for years to come.
Bliss believes breastmilk is best for babies. However, we also recognise that in some circumstances specialist preterm formula and fortifiers are prescribed to ensure that a baby receives the nutrition it requires, and that neonatal units across the UK regularly use these products for this reason.
Having consulted with parents and neonatal professionals regarding their views on preterm formula and fortifiers, the consensus reached was that an inclusive approach to neonatal nutrition could incorporate a dialogue with companies who produce this vital part of the feeding regimen. Bliss undertakes a rigorous evaluation process prior to accepting any new funding, in line with the ethical standards that govern its decision making which can be found at http://www.bliss.org.uk/our-funding, and our Board of Trustees decided that we could accept this funding on this basis.
We place strict conditions on sponsorship of this sort, and no influence over any content we produce is given to any funder. We will also not give a platform for the promotion of any product that is not in the best interests of babies born premature or sick, nor would we seek to influence the prescription practices in neonatal units.
Bliss’ ultimate goal is for all babies born premature or sick to have the best possible chance of survival and quality of life, and our work to improve family centred care measures such as breastfeeding rates and kangaroo care are crucial to achieving this. We believe that accepting sponsorship from Nutricia would strengthen our ability to achieve these goals through enabling us to reach more health professionals with our work
We are monitoring carefully the feedback that we have received since information started circulating about these sponsorship discussions, and would like to assure all of our supporters and stakeholders that we take the views of parents in need of our support, as well as the many committed healthcare professionals working in neonatal care, very seriously. We will be discussing this further with our trustees next week - if you have any feedback in the meantime, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further to the recent statement from Unicef UK regarding these sponsorship discussions, we would like to assure parents and the thousands of healthcare professionals working in neonatal care that we take the independence of our programmes very seriously.
No influence on the content of our educational programmes is given to any sponsor, nor are they afforded the opportunity to provide speakers at our training events. The only goal of our training programmes is to facilitate excellent neonatal practice to improve outcomes for babies born premature or sick.
Production of Bliss information follows the incredibly rigorous process laid out by the NHS Information Standard (https://www.england.nhs.uk/tis/), to ensure that its content is accurate and impartial. All of Bliss’ information is produced using the latest research and in partnership with leading experts, and no influence is given to any sponsor over its content. Moreover, at no point have we discussed allowing Nutricia to sponsor our information or any of our work with parents.
Given the vital need for parents with a baby in neonatal care right now to have access to our information, it would be incredibly distressing if they were being deprived of this valuable support tool.
Bliss developed the Baby Charter in 2005 and it has since become a well-recognised framework to drive excellence in family-centred care, most recently being included in the NHS England Quality Surveillance Peer Review and the BAPM Neonatal Service Quality Indicators.
We have always maintained that the Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative is a useful complement to the rigorous multi-disciplinary standards laid out in the Bliss Baby Charter, and will continue to support neonatal units who wish to strive for accreditation with both programmes. As laid out in Principle 6 of the Baby Charter (http://www.bliss.org.uk/pages/category/bliss-baby-charter), Bliss is committed to supporting feeding and improving breastfeeding rates across neonatal units, and continue to see the principles set out in the Baby Friendly Initiative as useful to the wider improvements in neonatal care afforded by accreditation with the Bliss Baby Charter.