Bounty sales reps in hospitals. A feminist issue?

(37 Posts)

Try as I might, I cant understand why anyone would think it is okay to have salespeople on a postnatal ward, whether they are nasty and giving the hard sell as a large percentage of MNers seem to have experienced , or even nice and "just" giving out the packs.

It wouldnt be allowed to happen anywhere else in hospital, so why the PN ward? And why are so many people not only happy with it, but defending it to those who are unhappy?

what do you think?

HullMum Wed 12-Jun-13 22:32:52

Yes it's a feminist issue. Especially where many women are saying it has caused they distress but they are supposed to take it. It wouldn't happen on any other ward.

Anyone else remember a really nasty thread where women who said they wern't comfortable with male doctors or midwives doing internals being told they should "get over it"?

And called sexist best of all.

So 1/4th of women in this world are sexually attacked and all women in this world are taught not to uncover themselves to men...but if they suddenly feel uncomfortable letting a straneg man put their hand up their fanjo..wel they are the sexist ones. and should get over it.

I remember one man person saying that it was necessary even for rape kits etc if say only a man was available. Even if a woman had been assaulted she should have to sub lit to a rape kit from a man for justice to be served even if it could be equally traumatic at that point as the actual rape. And thy all said it was sexist for health authorities to hire enough women to provide these services. Because you know there are obviously so many more qualified men to stick their hands up women's fannies that to hire an appropriate amount of women would be unfeasible.

Oh and it was the same as refusing a person based on race. angry

Suck it up woman.

I went off topic there, but it still makes me furious.

Spiritedwolf Thu 13-Jun-13 17:24:20

Yes its a feminist issue. I am not aware of sales people going around wards with male patients, pulling back privacy screens, trying to sell things to men who have just undergone major abdominal surgery, perhaps who have had blood loss, or still have a catheter attached. Men who have just had to pass gall stones aren't (to the best of my knowledge) asked to give up their personal details to marketing companies, or have them stolen from their notes 'because they were busy'. Perhaps, the NHS could earn some money by allowing companies selling insurance, stairlifts, or mobility scooters to wards of older men.

I think that it's partly that the arrival of a new human being is such a time for celebration (and apparently therefore a commercial opportunity) that more emphasis is on the cute baby, than on the woman who has perhaps had medical proceedures, and will be physically and usually emotionally vulnerable.

It is (or should be) an intimate time for the parents to bond with the newbaby, perhaps learning to feed him/her, and for the woman to recover from birth/section. I think it is completely inappropriate to sell to women at this time, as not only can they be physically vulnerable, even if the birth has gone smoothly, physiologically their bodies are prepped to bond with the new infant, and so they might be feeling more well disposed towards any commercial offer than they would otherwise be.

Although the MN campaign doesn't seem to highlight this, I'm certain that a previous MN discussion about the issue pointed out that selling to people who are vulnerable and in a private space (you know, like in a hospital bed) is against existing direct selling guidelines.

To those who think of the bounty packs as just a goodie bag, maybe they sho-uld look at the contents of the Finnish box for new mums and then decide whether they are being sold a bit short for a tiny tub of sudocrem and marketing rubbish.

HotSoupDumpling Thu 13-Jun-13 18:12:00

I think so.

Like posters have said, it wouldn't happen on any other ward.

It seems to me to be connected to the perception that birth is 'natural' and the pain (and sometimes trauma) of birth is something women just have to 'get over'. Women are treated as incubators and not as people (hence why all the celebration when a baby is born - so many grandparents go straight for the baby, completely ignoring what the woman has gone through).

Hence it's logical that while recovering from birth they are not properly regarded as true patients - patients who may have suffered a lot and need emotional and physical care, including being shielded from random strangers trying to sell them things.

Yep, you are all articuating my vague feeling much better than I could!

HullMum Thu 13-Jun-13 21:25:22

Yes, how many people on here have been in tears at the idea of being descended upon by family in the delivery room..and told to get over it! they are there to see the baby. As though the woman on the bed is just a convenient milk supply for the new baby

alcibiades Thu 13-Jun-13 21:42:18

I've been reading the Bounty threads ever since they started here. I was appalled by what I was reading. But I couldn't really relate to those accounts, because my children were born back in the late 1970s. I think we might have been given Bounty bags, but I can't be certain, and anyway recalling whether we did or not is very low down on the list of things to remember after so long.

But, reading this particular thread, and thinking if this is a feminist issue, I got a flashback to those days, and thought: damn sure it's a feminist issue.

Back then, drugs were administered and examinations carried out, without any regard whatsoever of the concept of consent. In fact, I only found out what drugs had been given me because the woman in the next bed, who was a nurse, had asked, and she had been told, because she was a nurse.

Many years later, on doing some research once I'd got access to the internet, I discovered that back then the Medical Defence Union had stated their view that once a pregnant woman stepped over the threshold of the maternity hospital she was to be regarded as thereby giving her implicit consent to every treatment/drug the consultant decided on. Hence, no information, and no discussion.

Fast-forward to the current Bounty issue. Of course any woman can say no to the Bounty rep, but there have been too many instances where women didn't know they had that right, too many instances where women couldn't easily identify the Bounty rep as being a rep rather than a HCP, too many women feeling pressured into giving personal information to someone who they didn't know wasn't an HCP, and so on.

In those hospitals which allow Bounty reps on the wards, no woman has given her implicit consent by stepping over the threshold to being approached by a sales representative. It shouldn't be the default response that a woman can say no; the default response should be that no woman should have to.

It's a horrible flashback to the times when consultants/hospitals made all the decisions, and women had no say.

LineRunner Thu 13-Jun-13 22:52:12

Yes it is a feminist issue.

It is bloody disgraceful that women are being harassed on NHS premises, where no man or child would be allowed to be harassed.

I think the undercurrent is that women are expected to present a little gift-wrapped present of their baby to everyone else, regardless of their own health, welfare and wishes. It's that culture that permits the obscene commercialisation of the invasion of women's privacy by a public body.

NiceTabard Fri 14-Jun-13 00:10:22

I definitely think they should be banned.

I had cs with both of mine, and so was on the "being slightly more closely looked at" ward, on morphine and with catheter.

The bounty women came and did full on Hard Sell.

In what world is it OK for people who are post operative and high as kites on opiates to be accessed by hard sell people?

they are absolute FUCKERS IMO

They talked me into more than I wanted (DD1 - I could only have a bag if I gave them my name phone number email etc) but the women in the beds around me coughed up for £££ photos while they were ill and drugged and the sales technique was proper full on Hard Sell.

Honestly I hate them.

What can I do to support MN campaign?

HullMum Fri 14-Jun-13 02:50:44

Is there no law against selling to the obviously vulnerable?

HullMum Fri 14-Jun-13 02:51:17

as in recently bereaved/off their tits from drugs after surgery

FairPhyllis Fri 14-Jun-13 07:13:22

Yes, it's a feminist issue.

I don't understand how they can possibly be getting proper consent to hold personal information. Loads of women must be in pain/distressed/still on strong drugs and fairly vulnerable. Isn't there any part of a data collection/protection law that prevents this?

Would any other post-surgical ward allow direct selling to patients? I think not.

Yes, its been mentioned on the other threads it is against the law. Being cared for on a hospital ward defines you as vulnerable, and it is illegal to sell to someone who is vulnerable (just the same as being illegal to enter into a contract with a child!), plus apparently it can also contravene your "right to privacy" according to the ECHR people who have more knowledge than me have explained both of these in detail

The thing that is concerning me about the whole thing, is the amount of people who are defending it!

HotSoupDumpling Fri 14-Jun-13 08:41:13

I think some women confuse their personal feelings and experiences ('my rep was lovely', 'I was happy to have a photo taken', 'I just said no and they left') with the concept that:
- women experience birth and recovery differently
- the fact that in their individual cases they were confident or happy with their Bounty experience doesn't negate any of the arguments made against the general Bounty concept.

I think this happens all the time during feminist arguments. Some people who've not experienced e.g. work discrimination or sexist banter, or who can deal with it happily, can't get their heads around the fact that it seriously affects other women.

Llareggub Fri 14-Jun-13 08:42:53

I started a mini revolution on my ward when I told the Bounty rep to leave me alone. She approached me when my baby was trying to latch on. I told her to bugger off and there was a stunned silence on the ward. One by one the other women refused to talk to her too. It was almost as if by one person refusing the others realised that we didn't have to talk to the Bounty woman.

But yes, I do think it is a feminist issue. Incidentally the hospital was closed to visitors due to norovirus but somehow this didn't seem to apply to Bounty. I wonder why?

HotSoupDumpling Fri 14-Jun-13 08:46:52

The petition is here:

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Fri 14-Jun-13 08:54:58

How did Bounty get the gig?

Do they have competitors?

How did it all come about, in the first place? Anyone know?

It's a rather major PR coup.

It kind of seems preposterous, when you think about it. And yet there they are, in every post-natal ward, flogging their wares...

And yes, definitely a feminist issue.

Xenia Fri 14-Jun-13 09:19:59

There are individual contracts between Bounty and hospitals around the country. I think they are mostly exclusive - so only Bounty and not their competitors are allowed in (actually that is probably better than a free market with 4 companies roaming round maternity units snapping photos).

Some hospitals have always refused to have them in even though the contract may be worth £50k or £100k in revenue.

On the issue someone raised above about consent and labour etc there was a useful case around 15 years ago where courts held as a woman in labour you can give a valid consent and even refuse treatment including a life saving C section if you want which I found very comforting in labour.

However I do not think it is illegal for hospitals to allow Bounty people on to wards. If the rule is that you ask consent before taking the picture and the mother can send you away I suspect it will be inside the law (just) under the Data Prtoection Act 1998 and Human Rights Act although I would prefer hospitals to refuse Bounty and other reps entry.
Cannot see much on line about their competitors. Here is an article from 2009 about Bounty

LineRunner Fri 14-Jun-13 15:43:28

xenia I don't know if you know the answer to this, but it relates to cold calling and trespass.

If a cold caller comes to my door and I say 'No, go away,' then they have to go away or they are trespassing. Does the same apply if I am lying in a hospital bed or cubicle? Is that a trespass?

Just wondering.

Xenia Fri 14-Jun-13 15:55:55

You don't own the floor around your hospital bed so it's not trespass. It becomes trespass if the hospital bars the person from the hospital and they come in nevertheless.
You are more likely to get further with privacy rights - if you say I do not consent to being photographed or your taking any details about me please leave now and they persist then they could be in trouble. I suspect they would tend to run away pretty fast if you said that to them anyway.
Another tactic if patients are allowed mobiles would be to take pictures and record the Bounty people as they go round the ward which is likely to put them off too but might end up causing a bit of trouble so might not be wise.

HotSoupDumpling Fri 14-Jun-13 17:19:59

I haven't examined all possible arguments but from what I've seen I agree Xenia that it's not illegal for hospitals to allow Bounty reps, or for Bounty reps to do what they do.

Trespass - not private property as Xenia said
Consent to enter into a contract - it's a bit of an own-goal (feminism-wise) to say that vulnerable women can't effectively give consent to Bounty reps to take their photos.
Privacy - probably the best one to run with.

Nonetheless, it is immoral and inappropriate regardless of legality, which I think is a red herring. The pressure on NHS/Government should focus on the moral point.

NHS hospitals say in their constitution that 'Every individual who comes into contact with the NHS and organisations providing health services should always be treated with respect and dignity.'. There is no respect or dignity being shown to a woman who has just given labour if a stranger is allowed to approach her IN BED (where she may be knickerless/still bleeding/incontinent etc) without prior consent.

Sorry, off the feminism point for a moment there!

Vegehamwidge Fri 14-Jun-13 17:39:07

It definitely is. This makes me so angry - wtf would you think of going in to a hospital and try to sell things to the ill or vulnerable people there? Shouldn't it be a sanctuary from such things? Why would you WANT to go in and try to sell things to someone who gave birth to a baby a few hours ago - it just seems so cold-hearted and disrespectful <rage>

LineRunner Fri 14-Jun-13 18:31:53

Good points above about the ability to consent angle. It'd be an own goal to argue that women lose their consenting abilities, ever, tbh.

To my mind the issues really are that

(a) these Bounty fuckers shouldn't be in the hospital in the first place because it's a nasty commercialisation of the NHS, and

(b) they shouldn't be targeting women with new-born babies, and

(c) they shouldn't be pretending to be part of the staff and entitled to personal information because they wouldn't get away with this on any other ward, and

(d) the actual staff shouldn't collude with this, and

(e) these fuckers shouldn't have any connection whatsoever with handing out child benefit application forms which apparently is common, and HMRC should stop colluding and stop giving Bounty the forms.

NiceTabard Fri 14-Jun-13 19:01:26

have signed petition.

really really hate this.

Xenia Fri 14-Jun-13 19:30:09

Yes and a case held a woman in labour can give consent or withhold it even to a C section which is a tremendously important case, a right ni effect to your own body.

On are there laws against selling to vulnerable people, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 require that your marketing must not be misleading and it needs to be appropriate for the kind of person to whom it is directed (eg if to young children you need to be clearer than to adults etc.).

My view is that most of the time Bounty operate within the law. hey may have the occasional far too persistent salesperson and if that person takes data without consent of photographs babies whilst mothers are unconscious that is not lawful but the basic Bounty set up is lawful.. However as a matter of public pressure and on moral grounds if hospitals fees they can manage without the Bounty money it would be better if reps were kept out of hospital wards. It think it is amazing they give out child benefit forms - real muddying of the waters between state provision and commerce. You would have thought you could get the form on line these days or just send a husband to a post office to get it as we did.

LineRunner Fri 14-Jun-13 19:33:30

Yes, the child benefit form is indeed online, Xenia, someone posted the link on the other thread.

That's what the hospital ward staff should be telling people.

NiceTabard Fri 14-Jun-13 20:43:53

xenia if a person is on heavy duty pain relief (ie morphine) in a hospital environment, is there really nothing in the law which says they cannot be approached by people with hard-sell techniques?

NiceTabard Fri 14-Jun-13 20:46:06

Frankly I was as high as a kite while on the morphine self-dosing thing and I do not think that is an appropriate situation for hard selling.

TBH ditto pulling curtains back - who knows what is going on behind them.

On any other "high risk" ward with people drugged, catheterised, on drips etc they wouldn't be sending sales people in.

It's outrageous, IMO.

zigzoo Fri 14-Jun-13 21:12:13

yes definitely a feminist issue as is birth of course but sometimes we are told here that that's not a feminist issue hmm

Vegehamwidge Fri 14-Jun-13 21:54:14

Surely things that affect mostly/only women = feminist issue?

meddie Fri 14-Jun-13 23:41:23

My major issue is one of privacy and obtaining by deception, even as a nurse I wouldnt dream of just yanking back a closed curtain without first checking it was ok to enter (that the patient wasnt exposed etc) These woman seem to have no compunction whatsoever in doing it.

As for the deception. The women believe they are receiving free goodies and their CB form and are not told that actually, they are really there to collect data to sell on to 3rd parties and the freebies are just a smoke screen.

I had my kids in the 80's and the packs were different. They often contained full size samples. few vouchers and the CB form. The deal in those days I beleive was that manufacturers paid a fee to include their samples and the manufacturers hoped this would promote brand loyalty.
I remember getting full size shampoo, lotion and baby bath, sterilising tablets, breast pads, nappies, creams. It was a decent starter pack.

Since the internet its much more profitable s just to sell the data on. You are lucky to get a solitary nappy and a small tub of sudocrem now.

People would be horrified if salepeople for wheelchairs and mobility scooters approached post op amputees, or stannah tried to sell stair lifts on care of the elderly wards. Why is this practise allowed.
Why are women and their privacy and dignity for sale.

Spiritedwolf Sat 15-Jun-13 11:05:57

Meddie, see what you've said about promoting brand loyalty, I think that for me, one of the issues is indeed women being exposed to adverts when their bodies are flooded with oxytocin designed to help them bond with and feed their babies. It seems remarkably underhand to take advantage of women's physiology at this time to get them to 'bond' with logos and marketing material.

Our brains recognise brands the same way we do people, it follows for me that we are probably susceptible to becoming more favourable to brands we are exposed to post birth than at other times. I gave birth in an NHS trust in Scotland which I presume does not allow bounty (I saw no sign of bounty stuff and NHS Scotland has its own information packs with no advertising). But I certainly 'bonded' with my midwives more than medical staff I've met at other times, presumably partly because of the emotional state I was in at the time.

I hope it is clear that I am not saying that women who have given birth are incapable or stupid, but we are more vulnerable. I was lucky to have a straightforward birth with a ridiculously good recovery despite needing stitches (I had to ask why I was being offered pain relief, whether they had mixed me up with someone who had a CS - not realising that I could have been in pain) - but I don't think I'd have been able to fend off direct sales people.

I am certain that on a previous thread people pointed out all the ways direct selling on wards contravined directed selling regulations. Selling to people who are in bed, in a space that they can reasonably be to be private, giving the impression that they are part of the HCP team, when they might be in pain or drugged is wrong and is already against regulations/guidelines on direct selling. That doesn't mean that folk who are vulnerable in this way are incapable of consenting or not consenting to medical proceedures (though I do think that HCPs have to be clear what a patient's choices are) but that they might not feel able to say no to sales people.

What about the 14/10/7 (whatever it is) right to cancel if someone comes around your house selling double glazing? Protecting people from pressure selling doesn't mean that you are saying that they are unintelligent or incapable of making decisions, it just reflects that when people are put on the spot, in their own homes they might regret the decision later.

Spiritedwolf Sat 15-Jun-13 11:06:23

14/10/7 day* right to cancel

Xenia Sat 15-Jun-13 12:55:22

"xenia if a person is on heavy duty pain relief (ie morphine) in a hospital environment, is there really nothing in the law which says they cannot be approached by people with hard-sell techniques?"

I wouldn't allow them in at all if I ran a hospital. It's ethically dubious and I believe quite a lot of hospitals do not allow them in on those grounds.

Is it illegal for hospitals to allow someone in who may persuade eg very poor mothers to buy a photo they cannot afford just after they gave birth? (I am less worried about vouchers and getting emails later as you can always unsubscribe or opt out so it's not quite such a big issue). I can see illegality if the hospital provides patient details or lets the Bounty people look at names of mothers on a chart in the ward office as someone mentioned on another thread.
It could also be illegal to photograph when someone is sleeping.

There are 2008 regulations about misleading marketing and saying things like I will lose my job unless I make a sale or making untrue statements when marketing and also that includes aggressive selling such as I will not leave your home until you sign or pushing the customer against the wall. I suspect it is unlikely most bounty staff are doing that. Pulling back someone's curtains around their bed is probably not an offence even if she has her knickers off and is looking at bleeding from her between her legs as it is a public ward and people do come and go... this is all making me very pleased I always went home within 6 hours and avoided going on to a maternity ward ever.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Xenia Sat 15-Jun-13 15:18:31

Good point. I am certainly in favour of banning them. It is just I am not sure legal reasons is going to be the best way as I think Bounty can be allowed access in ways that are legal. I think it's about the right to give birth and recover free of commercial influences and having peace and privacy.

(A do recommend 6 hour transfer if you aren't going for a home birth and you want to get back into your own space and away from an institutional environment and of course are well enough. It was so nice to get right back home so quickly).

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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