National Association: United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking www.ukamb.org
National Guidelines: Donor breast milk banks: the operation of donor breast milk bank services published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2010 are available to download fromhttp://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG93
Milk banks have been operational in the UK for more than 80 years. The first was established in West London after the provision of donated breastmilk to a set of quadruplets born in the mid 1930’s. Currently there are 16 throughout the UK of which most are to be found in England. However the single milk bank in Scotland, based in Glasgow, offers a nationwide service and a single bank also provides donor milk throughout Northern Ireland as well as to some hospital neonatal units in the Republic of Ireland. During a recent interruption to supplies donor milk was flown and shipped to hospitals in Ireland from England – an example of cooperation that is possible as a result of the internationally recognised milk banking operational guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence as well as of the ready availability from the 2 largest banks in England based in the North West and in the South East. The UK’s milk banks range in size from those that provide donor milk to a single neonatal unit to several that supply hospitals throughout a wide geographical area. It has, until recently been unusual for non hospitalised infants to receive donor milk however this has changed as a result of the UK’s newest milk bank, which supports families where the baby is unable to receive maternal milk as a result of the mother’s ill health (eg cancer) or other problems. The Hearts Milk Bank, which operates as part of the charitably funded Human Milk Foundation, was established in 2016 as an independent organisation to support families with babies in or out of hospital for whom human milk will be of benefit. Overall, the number of neonatal units in the UK using donor milk is increasing and thanks to the volunteer motorcyclists (better known as the ‘Blood Bikes’) the collection and delivery of donor human milk is achieved far more effectively and efficiently and without cost to the milk banks. For more information on the ‘Blood’ or ‘Milk’ Bikes see http://www.bloodbikes.org.uk/
The UK Association for Milk Banking was established in 1997 by Gillian Weaver and Dr Susan Balmer together with support from milk bank staff, clinicians and microbiologists from several of the UK’s milk banks . The current chair is Jackie Hughes (Chester) and Debbie Barnett (Glasgow) leads the UKAMB’s milk bank forum.