Coronation Street actor Ian Puleston-Davies – who plays Owen in the popular soap – visited the Countess of Chester Hospital to present the trust with the prestigious UNICEF Baby Friendly Award.

The Countess of Chester Hospital’s Maternity Unit recently underwent reassessment  by UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, scoring 45/45 points.

The trust's Maternity Unit was externally audited by UNICEF UK as part of a three-stage assessment in November 2010 and awarded full Baby Friendly Accreditation.

Since the award staff have worked hard to maintain the high standards required and following reassessment in April 2013  the unit was reaccredited with the Baby Friendly Award.

There are 32 hospitals in the North West, only 10 are fully accredited with this prestigious award, and only five have been re-accredited putting the Countess among a select group of top performing trusts.

The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

It was established in 1992 to encourage maternity units to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and to practise in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

Infant feeding and parent education co-ordinator, Janet Beech, said: “I am very proud of all the staff in this unit for their hard work and dedication.

“Each stage of the assessment must be passed before progressing to the next, which has relied on huge commitment from staff within the unit to support mothers and babies with the best practice standards for infant feeding.”

She added: “Over the past 13 years we have implemented rigorous policies incorporating baby friendly best practice standards, ensuring that all health professionals who come in to contact with mothers and their babies have a good standard of training in breastfeeding management to fully support mothers and their families.”

The assessment reviewed the units Breastfeeding Policy, Staff Training, Antenatal Information, Care at Delivery, Postnatal Support and Follow up Support, among other areas.

Julie Fogarty, Head of Midwifery, said: “I am delighted as this is such a stringent assessment and to retain full accreditation is a great achievement.”