End Bounty reps' access to new mothers on NHS wards

Mother with newborn babyMumsnet is calling on the government to ban the practice of allowing Bounty sales reps access to maternity wards to target mothers hours after they have given birth.

Our survey reveals that eight out of 10 (82%) of Mumsnetters who responded say it is unacceptable for NHS hospitals to allow commercial companies to interact directly with patients on wards.

The survey discloses alarming levels of dissatisfaction amongst mothers, even after Bounty updated its code of conduct in May 2012 in an attempt to address previous criticism.

The survey of more than 1,000 Mumsnetters (who gave birth after May 2012), reveals that:

  • Over half (56%) of new mothers felt a Bounty rep invaded their privacy
  • 60% were not specifically told their personal details would be passed on to other companies
  • 82% don't think hospitals should allow sales reps access to wards at all 

Mumsnetters have reported being hassled by over-zealous Bounty salespeople.

In 17% of cases, they say Bounty reps implied parents would only be able to claim Child Benefit if they filled in Bounty's commercial forms. One Mumsnetter said: "After 80 hours' labour I did doubt myself when Bounty woman said I needed to register for [a] pack for child benefit."

Other results of the survey are:

  • 55% said the Bounty rep came at an inconvenient time for them and their baby
  • 48% were not told that giving their details was voluntary
  • 29% felt pressurised to have their baby's photograph taken
  • 53% rated their post-natal Bounty pack as poor, with not much of use inside

Our survey follows an editorial in the British Medical Journal by Dr Margaret McCartney, which highlighted the appalling Bounty rep tactics and called for an end to the NHS profiting by selling commercial advertisers access to pregnant women through promotions such as Bounty bags.

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO and co-founder says: "Our users believe it's time for the government to clamp down on Bounty's harassment tactics to obtain data from new mothers. There is a time and a place for direct sales, and it's not on postnatal wards, hours after women have given birth.

"Mumsnet will be joining other organisations, including the NCT, who have called on the government to give a clear statement that such practices are not acceptable. NHS trusts should review their contracts with any such organisations, particularly in the light of trading standards guidelines about selling to vulnerable people."

Already, more than 1,600 people have signed a petition on change.org calling for action on the issue.

What Mumsnetters say about their encounters with Bounty reps

  • "I had an emergency c-section and was unable to get out of bed when the Bounty rep arrived. When my baby started crying because she needed feeding, the rep picked her up to comfort her without asking me. She is my first baby and at 15 hours old I wasn't prepared to hand her over to anyone else, even if they had asked! I found her rude and intrusive at a time that was personal and I felt vulnerable."
  • "I was upset and angry after being approached by the Bounty Rep after giving birth to my twins at 23+6 weeks. They were both in NICU and I was a mess. The last thing I wanted was a wallet full of items aimed at, and covered in photos of, healthy/ term babies."

Last updated: 24-Jun-2013 at 11:08 AM