• Rosamund McFadden


I know a way to help save the NHS millions and millions of ££££’s and afford to pay for countless new nurses to join the wonderful teams who we are celebrating this International Day of the Nurse #IDN2020 #ICN2020. An especially poignant subject during the Coronavirus Pandemic. It’s not really a secret it is well known that the benefits of breastfeeding has a positive impact on health but often people don’t appreciate the economic benefits of improving the nation’s health. The medical and nursing profession’s educational curriculum doesn’t focus enough on the science behind breastmilk and the risks of #notbreastfeeding or #formulamilk. This is not about ‘shaming’ people for their choices but it is about ensuring they are making informed choices and to do so those responsible for their care need the facts to be able to truly inform.


Tomorrow’ blog will focus on the benefits of breastfeeding to #childhealth but I still feel these benefits are not truly understood and when there is a problem with a breastfed child the breastmilk or breastfeeding itself is often blamed, showing a lack of understanding. This is not the fault of the nursing staff at all, they have their patient’s health at the forefront of their care, but their education in Infant Feeding and Lactation is often hit and miss. Many care plans they are given don’t integrate breastmilk and breastfeeding in a way that maximises breastmilk intake and protects milk supply.

Paediatricians who develop the care plans for these patients, often lack education into understanding breastmilk, the microbiome and the importance of dealing with breastmilk with the scientific appreciation they do of blood as a living dynamic fluid. Medical students have a 2 hour lecture on the breastfeeding, and I have the pleasure in writing and delivering one of those sessions for the second year medical students but may be the last time they have a lecture. They are more likely to have opportunities to understand information about the array of ‘specialist’ milks available to them to prescribe. I know there are amazing initiatives for medical staff in UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospitals where they will be given provision to attend courses but there is still a disconnect between the education available to them and the care plans that reflect a true understanding of how breastmilk and breastfeeding works.

It is so hard because breastmilk is often seen as a form of nutrition that is static and unchanging (beyond the understanding of the differences between colostrum and mature milk) and that it can be measuring by volume rather bio chemical content. This is an incorrect picture of breastmilk because it is a bio fluid that is as dynamic as blood. It changes from day to day, hour to hour and feed to feed. Not only that but the role of breastmilk in reducing childhood illness and setting up a child’s future health outcomes is so important if we are going to make a difference to #ournhs and our #world.


GASTROENTERITIS = £3.6 million saving per annum

3,285 fewer babies admitted to hospital

10,637 fewer GP consultations

RESPIRATORY ILLNESS = £6.7 million saving per annuum

5,916 fewer babies admitted to hospital

22,248 fewer GP consultations

EAR INFECTIONS = £75,000 saving per anuum

21,045 fewer GP visits

NECROTISING ENTEROCOLITIS (NEC) = £6 million saving per annuum

• 361 fewer cases of the potentially fatal disease NEC, saving more than £6 million

The average wage for a Nurse in April 2020 [3] is £24,864, can you imagine how many more nurses could be recruited from these savings and how much PPE this would pay for?

UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative report, Preventing Disease and Saving Resources [2] outlines the financial modelling they used to categorise the specific health benefits in research that is graded into three categories [diag 1]

(Diagram 1: an exert of the report[2])


1. Curriculum for Paediatric Training General Paediatrics Level 1, 2 and 3 Training Sept 2010. Revised and Approved by the GMC 16th April 2015; for implementation from 1st August 2015

2. Average Registered Nurse (RN) Salary in the United Kingdom: Available from https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Registered_Nurse_(RN)/Salary [accessed on 12th May 2020]

3. Renfrew, M et al (2019) Preventing Disease and Saving Resources. Available from: https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/about/preventing-disease-and-saving-resources/ [accessed on 12th May 2020]

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