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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > New service launched for breastfeeding mums in North Cumbria

New service launched for breastfeeding mums in North Cumbria

Posted on Friday 2nd May 2014

A new service launched in the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle will see hundreds of new babies in north Cumbria being treated locally for tongue-tie.

Tongue-tie affects around 5% of newborn babies and is a tight piece of skin between the underside of their tongue and floor of their mouth. In some cases, it can affect the baby’s breastfeeding, making it hard for them to attach properly to their mother’s breast.

The new service has been launched by Helen Ferris, breastfeeding co-ordinator, Mr John Elliott, consultant oral surgeon and Dr Anna Vincent, staff grade doctor. Mr Elliott and Dr Vincent carry out a tongue-tie division which involves cutting the short, tight piece of skin – it is a simple and painless procedure that usually resolves any breastfeeding problems straight away.

Before the service was launched in north Cumbria, new mums and babies had to travel outside of the county to Newcastle for this procedure. Now, it is estimated that around 200 families every year will be able to have their treatment locally.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust offers a comprehensive breastfeeding support service with a high breastfeeding rate after delivery (71% of new mums in the Cumberland Infirmary in 2013-14) and it is hoped this new procedure being offered locally will help even more new mums to breastfeed.

Mr John Elliott, consultant oral surgeon, said: “I am very pleased to be able to launch this service in North Cumbria, offering new mums and babies in the area local access to the tongue-tie procedure.

“We have an excellent breastfeeding support service across the region from Carlisle to Whitehaven which results in a lot of breastfeeding mums. There is good evidence to show the tongue-tie procedure can improve breastfeeding and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) supports the use of the procedure. We plan to conduct our own research in the Trust and publish it later this year.”

Helen Ferris, breastfeeding co-ordinator for the Trust, said: “The tongue-tie procedure can give mums the ability to breastfeed their baby for a longer period. I carry out the initial assessment with mum and baby and refer to Mr Elliott and Dr Vincent if I feel they may benefit from the procedure.

“I am very proud of the breastfeeding service we offer in North Cumbria and this is further enhancing what we can offer locally to our new mums and babies. The clinic is now running every Friday and we will be seeing around two babies every week.”

Hannah Fisher and her son Richard Blacklock were the first people to see Mr Elliott and Dr Vincent in the new clinic last week. Richard is Hannah’s second baby and she is now volunteering as a breastfeeding peer supporter with the Trust. Hannah said: “When I first realised Richard had tongue-tie, I thought I would have to travel to Newcastle but it is great there is now a service available locally – it has been a fantastic service.”