Date published: 18 September 2013
Jim Dobbin MP
Local MP Jim Dobbin has backed a call for hospitals within the Heywood, Middleton, Rochdale (HMR) CCG to remove commercial sales reps from ante-natal wards. Run by the website Mumsnet, the campaign is calling for hospitals across the country to ditch contracts with companies who send sales reps onto maternity wards to sell photography services and collect personal data - at the same time as giving out 'goody bags' of free samples and promotional leaflets.
82% of mothers surveyed thought that it was unacceptable for these hard sales tactics to take place on hospital wards, and the Mumsnet campaign has attracted support from a broad range of organisations, clinicians and academics. An online petition asking the government's Health Minister to get sales reps off the wards has attracted over 23,000 signatures.
The government has written to all health trusts asking them to review the situation. Some hospital trusts have already announced that they will be cancelling contracts as a result, or are actively reviewing their arrangements with companies such as Bounty.
Clare Goodrham, General Manager of Bounty, whose representatives can be found on the maternity wards in many hospitals, said: “Over the last 54 years, Bounty has worked in partnership with the NHS and hospitals, such as Royal Oldham Hospital and North Manchester General, to provide essential health information and free products to generations of new mothers. We are deeply disappointed that in recent weeks a direct commercial competitor, whose users we deeply respect and admire, has made inaccurate claims about Bounty.
"The wellbeing of mums continues to be our number one priority. That is why Bounty is welcomed by 99% of maternity units across the country. Moreover, 92% of mums nationally say that they love the free Bounty packs thanks to the free samples, money off vouchers and health information guides. This is important to all mums but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds who might not have access to this from other sources.”
Responding to Jim Dobbin's support, Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said: “We're delighted to see MPs getting behind this campaign. Everybody loves a freebie, but there is a time and a place for direct sales, and it's not on postnatal wards, hours after women have given birth. NHS trusts need to start putting new mothers' rights to privacy before commercial gain, and we hope that Jim Dobbin can help us apply more pressure to end this practice.”