Real nappy days are here again at the Simpsons
THE new Simpsons maternity centre is to become the first in Scotland to promote old-fashioned "real" nappies over disposables.
But mums who washed their hands of traditional terry towelling nappies in the late 1960s will be relieved to learn that the modern cloth versions have velcro or poppers instead of pins and are easily washed for re-use - a service included in the pioneering Edinburgh scheme.
Staff at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh centre are launching the move to help cut the multi-million pound cost of getting rid of the disposables across Britain, as well as cutting the cost of nappies for mothers.
And Edinburgh City Council, which spends some 200,000 on disposing of nappies each year, is supporting the pilot project.
Environmentalists have also welcomed moves to abandon disposable nappies, which they claim make up at least four per cent of household waste.
Dr Dan Barlow, head of research at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "It sounds like a fantastic project. There’s a misconception that real nappies are more hassle than they are worth. But in fact when parents are given the chance to try them, they keep them.
"They also realise that what they are doing makes a massive difference to reducing landfill and is also creating jobs."
Under the 16-week pilot, one postnatal ward at the Simpsons will use real nappies and the other will use disposables. Women will be allowed to choose which ward they stay in. The new hospital service is being provided by Craigmillar firm Nappy Days.
The company currently deals with around 1000 nappies a week. The hospital service is expected to bring in an extra 500 to 1000 nappies per day .
The soiled nappies will be cleaned to stringent NHS standards at the Western General Hospital laundry.
Yvonne Clark, clinical manager at the Simpsons labour suite, said: "I think we stopped using towelling nappies in the late 1960s or early 1970s. But the new real nappies are a very good idea.
"The service is very user-friendly and it will save the hospital money. I think around three per cent of our incineration bill was for disposable nappies."
Figures from the Women’s Environmental Network show that councils in Britain spend 40 million a year disposing of nappies.
Some four per cent of household waste is nappies, of which 94 per cent end up on landfill sites where they can take between 50 and 500 years to decompose.
Campaigners at the Edinburgh Real Nappy Network, which offers advice and support, claim women can save hundreds of pounds by buying real nappies, or even more if they use them on more than one child. Nappy Days was put in contact with the Simpsons by Business Community Connections (BCC), a group set up using European funding to help regenerate Craigmillar and areas in Midlothian.
Judith Dunn, BCC development worker, said: "This is a very exciting project and the first of its kind in a Scottish hospital.
"Similar schemes are run successfully in English hospitals and funded by English councils."
Edinburgh City Council environmental leader Brian Fallon revealed last year that the authority spends 200,000 per annum disposing of nappies. A council spokeswoman said the Simpsons project fitted the authority’s long-term strategy on cutting down on waste.
She said: "We provided indirect funding to the project through the Edinburgh Sustainable Development Partnership.
"We have also provided staff time to help with project development."
The owners of Nappy Days, husband and wife Colette and Les Healy, said they hoped the move will become a permanent fixture.
Mrs Healy, 33, of Bingham, Craigmillar, said: "It’s wonderful that the hospital is willing to give this a go."
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