The following is the response of the Scottish National Party to our letter on its infant and young child feeding policies. For the full list of responses and our letter see:

SNP party policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding

Thank you for your email of 30 January requesting clarification on SNP policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding.

In response to the question regarding the party fully implementing the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK, I would like to state the following.

In terms of the World Health Organisation (WHO) International Code on Marketing of Breastfeeding Milk Substitute that was launched in 1981, the UK Government is a signatory. In 1995 the UK Government implemented Infant Formula and Follow on Formula Regulations rather than the WHO code. Since this is a reserved matter, the Scottish Government do not currently have the powers to implement the WHO code in full.

This was an underpinning element of the Scottish Government framework “Improving Maternal and Infant Nutrition: A Framework for Action” published in 2011.

We have implemented the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) across all maternity, community and neonatal units in Scotland. As part this work, UNICEF require Health professionals in accredited units to comply with the code and for the NHS to have (the parts they can adopt) in policy.

The Scottish Government fund UNICEF to deliver BFI accreditation in maternity hospitals and in community settings in Scotland. Progress is being made nationally with 84% of births in Scotland taking place in a BFI accredited hospital, compared to 34% in England, 58% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland.

Our aim is to increase this to 100% by 2015 and currently in Scotland 81.4% of maternity hospitals have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation. Again Scotland is progressing well compared to England (31%); Wales (32%) and Northern Ireland (60%); who have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation.

We have just committed to funding the role of Professional Officer for Scotland for financial year 2015/16. This will allow UNICEF to provide dedicated support to NHS Boards in achieving and maintaining BFI accreditation.

We have had a National Maternal and Infant Nutrition co-ordinator in post since 2008 to support the development and implementation of our national framework. We meet with our MIN leads on a regular basis to be kept informed of progress in the implementation of the framework.

NHS Health Scotland support the Scottish Infant Feeding Advisors (SIFAN) network, and Scottish Government engage with this group on a regular basis. We also have Maternal and Infant Nutrition (MIN) leads who support the implementation of our national framework, but also link in locally with the Infant Feeding Advisors.

In response to your question on whether the SNP will reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey, the Scottish Government is currently exploring options around a National Infant Feeding Survey, to ensure any data collected is relevant to Scotland.

Yours sincerely,

Maureen Watt MSP
Aberdeen South and North Kincardine