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Campaign to end Bounty sales reps' access to maternity wards - please read and share

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MNHQ have commented on this thread.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 11-Jun-13 22:16:27

Evening all,

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to fill in our survey on Bounty and share your stories - from the initial idea onwards, this really is a campaign that has been prompted by your concerns, as posted on Mumsnet.

The survey showed that a very large majority (82%) felt it was unacceptable for Bounty sales reps to be on hospital wards, as well as highlighting a number of other concerns about Bounty reps' selling practices, so we're calling on government to end this kind of direct selling/data collecting on NHS wards. See more here.

It's clear, from the survey results, that, even after Bounty updated its code of conduct (these results only include users who gave birth from May 2012 - the full results containing prior data are here) its practices leave a lot to be desired, and that Mumsnet users feel very strongly that the maternity ward is no place for a hard sell, so we're really hoping that government will listen to us.

Here's how you can help...

Please sign the petition

If you're on Twitter please tweet your support for the campaign with the hashtag #bountymutiny and the following link:

If you're on Facebook then please like campaign page our campaign page (there's a FB link to click at the top on the left).

If you're on Google+, well, you'll know what to do.

We'll, of course, keep you posted here about the campaign and any developments. Thanks to everyone for their stories, honesty and input. Here's hoping we can make a difference!

StevenThomas Tue 06-Aug-13 13:07:52

I'm a city councillor in Coventry and I chair the city's health and social care scrutiny board. I'm delighted to support the campaign to remove sales reps from hospital wards.

Through a freedom of information request I have managed to ascertain that the value put on each new mum's privacy is just £4.66. I plan to keep up the pressure on this issue and would be delighted to hear from mums and dads in Coventry about their experiences. Please see Coventry City Council for my email address (hopefully that will confuse the spambots).

I'm also attaching links to two pieces from local papers in Coventry ...
Coventry Observer
Coventry Telegraph
... and will also be on the local BBC station this afternoon to discuss my findings.

Mumsnetters are doing a brilliant job in forcing NHS trusts to give answers on this issue, and in making the Government listen to them. I'm happy to do my bit too.

SuffolkNWhat Tue 06-Aug-13 13:24:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

aufaniae Tue 06-Aug-13 13:39:41

StevenThomas great to hear your support.

Which local station will you be on? We can probably tune in online, and no doubt there will be some mumsnetters near you.

StevenThomas Tue 06-Aug-13 13:42:35

I'll be on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire about 5:20 this afternoon. I'll also post a link on my Facebook page when I can:

ICBINEG Tue 06-Aug-13 14:05:17

Thank you Stephen.


On the plus side, Bounty lost all of that on me...I never bought anything from any of the people who put stuff in the bag and googlemail spams all of their correspondence for me.

edam Tue 06-Aug-13 14:20:28

Good work, Stephen.

Anyone in Coventry? You might want to give your hospital chief executive a call... from the local paper:

'Andy Hardy, chief executive officer at UHCW NHS Trust, said that since Coun Thomas had made his original enquiry the hospital had asked for feedback from new mums through social media.

He said: “We received four responses and none said they were pressured during their stay, and in fact two expressed concern that they did not meet a Bounty representative.

“We have also had one written complaint from a mother about being approached since we responded to Coun Thomas and we have noticed there have been three letters in local media from women supporting Bounty representatives on wards.

“This means that out of the 18,000 mums we cared for over the last three years, more than 99 per cent have not expressed a concern to us.”

Oh, so that's OK then. Never mind whether allowing sales reps to approach patients on NHS words is at all ethical, or legal under the Data Protection Act (given consent is dubious at best), or whether the patients concerned might be a bit too busy recovering from childbirth/looking after their new baby to spend time giving detailed feedback to the trust...

NurtureMyBaby Tue 06-Aug-13 15:25:34


I'm not sure if there is a way of going through such a huge thread to see if anybody here has written to West Mid NHS trust or if anybody has had a bad Bounty experience at West Mid hospital? Please enlighten me if there is!

Anyway, I have written to them, and was disappointed with the response. One of the things they said is that they are not aware of anybody having a problem with the "service" that Bounty provide.

Although, for me this is not what is at the heart of the matter, I have started a thread here to gather opinion/experiences of people whole have given birth at West mid:

If anybody is local and is campaigning on this or has had a negative experience at West Mid please respond smile

ALso really pleased to see a councillor here who is bothered by this! Just read the bit in the local paper for Coventry. smile

NurtureMyBaby Tue 06-Aug-13 18:28:47

Hope it was ok to start a new thread, I did it because I've posted it to a few Facebook groups and I thought if I directed people here they might be a bit overwhelmed by the 34 pages!

Anyway I noticed that further up this thread someone from Mumsnet was looking at ways of publishing the less than helpful responses from NHS trusts. Just wondering if you came to any conclusions on the best way to do this...I'm inclined to just publish my local trust's email response and my response to that (which has gone ignored for about 2 weeks now) on my blog...but I can't decide if this is wise? Any thoughts?

I'll pop the response here for now I case anyone is interested:

Thank you very much for your letter highlighting your concerns around access to our postnatal ward particularly from Bounty representatives. May I reassure you that we are totally committed to ensuring that we preserve the privacy and dignity of our clients and would in no way subject them to any unwanted attention. I have spoken at length with Miss Tonie Neville who is the Head of Midwifery about this. Miss Neville has reassured me that she is confident that the Bounty representatives act with tact and diplomacy when addressing new mothers. The team was orientated into the unit by the Matron for the service and their interaction with clients has been witnessed on several occasions. Neither the Matron or Miss Neville are aware of the intrusiveness, disrespect or bullying tactics towards new mothers that you quote in your letter. Whilst I acknowledge and am concerned about the level of anguish cited by the women you have surveyed I am not aware of any such issues being expressed here by the women giving birth at West Middlesex.
In answer then to the specific questions you have asked:
"Are you confident Bounty’s operations on postnatal wards are not in breach of trading standard regulations and relevant safeguarding legislation?"
As I have stated above the bounty team work within the limitations set them by the midwifery team and their interaction with clients has been closely observed. No issues of harassment or unwanted attention towards our clients have been noted. The Bounty representative waits to be invited into the bed space by the woman, if this is not granted or is declined she will leave. The maternity team have not witnessed nor are they aware of any hard sell tactics being used on women who use this service.
"When is the current contract up for renewal?"
The current Bounty contract is up for renewal in 2015.
"Will your Trust consider terminating your contract with Bounty?"
This organisation will of course consider terminating the contract with Bounty should public opinion be such that action is required. Miss Neville will undertake a discreet survey of our own users to ascertain if this service is wanted and useful.
" Is your Trust planning to renew this contract?"
At this present time the Trust is planning to renew the contract with Bounty, however the survey mentioned above will help guide our decision making prior to contract renewal.
In summary, the Bounty service has not demonstrated that it has breached trading standard regulations or relevant safeguarding legislation whilst in this unit. The maternity team have set boundaries for client interaction that Bounty are abiding by and there have been no complaints from our service users thus far. The Trust holds the experience of it service users in high regard and please be assured that we would not willingly compromise that experience on any account. I am confident that our clients will inform our decisions around Bounty going forward.

I added in this bit to the template letter:

My own experience in 2011 was quite neutral, but I did give the Bounty lady my personal details. I would not normally do this without asking some questions, but when in an NHS ward I expect anyone by my bedside to be a member of staff who is there to work towards positive health outcomes...not somebody from a marketing company motivated by profit. I also feel that the NHS should be providing evidence based information on health and feel that by endorsing Bounty packs, the NHS is at risk of not doing this.

And asked for comment on these points but it went ignored.

Babcia Tue 06-Aug-13 20:50:02

I'm probably quite late to the party here, but here goes... I only joined this site for conception and early pregnancy advice (no luck yet though unfortunately) and happened upon this campaign quite by chance, but have spent the last 2 hours reading various posts and being agog with horror (and signed the petition. Obviously being a childless gingerbread house-dwelling crone I perhaps naively thought that Bounty was a brand of kitchen roll, or a crap chocolate bar from the 1980's, and I'd never heard of them until the other day my friend sent me the link to "The Bounty Pictures" of her newborn, as though I would know that this is A Thing. My initial thoughts were "what the fcuk has kitchen roll got to do with pictures of babies?", so I googled it a bit, and was a little bit perturbed by how keen my friend seemed to be on from what I could see to be free samples in exchange for junk mail, and some completely unrelated photography sideline. I didn't even realise until reading through this campaign that the bounty ladies aren't even proper photographers- it just seems like such a weird premise! I can't imagine when the time comes that I'll be thrilled with a bag of tat and a shite photo, but my friend is seemingly happy with whatever it is that they bribed her with generously gave her in exchange for her personal details. Having never obviously experienced it myself these are the things I am left wondering:
1) Do they have organised sales training, specifically "objection handling" in order to gain more details/sell more pictures? Does nobody know anyone who works for Panorama/Dispatches and can suggest them going undercover as a bounty lady?
2) Given that they are operating in a clinical setting, do they do any compulsory NHS training (when I worked for the NHS as an admin monkey a few years ago we all had to do "stat and mand" training, and anyone down to the receptionists and cleaners had to do basic life support if they were near patients.) or do they get away with it because they don't actually work for the nhs?
3) Do the nhs trusts who allow bounty to operate have a robust tendering process where other groups (including volunteers) could bid to provide a photography service (and possibly visiting service/support)?

I would quite like to put these questions to someone, but maybe feel like a bit of an impostor, given that I haven't experienced one.
Surely if most people these days are in and out in a few hours if they have a relatively straightforward birth, then by default they must either be targeting mothers within a couple of hours of birth, or targeting mothers who have had difficult/complicated births or babies with health concerns. Frankly I don't even know how they even got away with this in the first place.

P.S. Can RedToothBrush get some sort of prize for that sterling Rumpole of the Bailey effort?! Amazing!! smile

StevenThomas Tue 06-Aug-13 23:58:09

Thanks for your support, everyone.

Here as promised is the link to my interview with Phil Upton at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire (starts 01:25:20).

The same link also includes interviews with Katie O'Donovan of Mumsnet from 00:24:40 and a Bounty representative from 02:05:55.

RedToothBrush Wed 07-Aug-13 19:05:59

Babcia Thank you for your kind words though I feel a bit of a fraud with the way you've put that! Especially since your description of yourself isn't disimilar to me. I personally don't think having had children is a prerequisit to seeing something as morally wrong, in need of change and wanting to support others who have been through the experience. Afterall, that would rule out half the population and the likes of Councillor Steven Thomas here (awesome work btw Steven). Not to mention, with luck, you have a vested interest for your own personal experience. And it has implications for other areas of medicine especially when there is talk of involving the private sector more. And because if they really are breaking the law, there is potential for a massive law suit against the NHS that eventually ends up hitting the pocket of all tax payers... There is no such thing as not being involved in this on some level.

2) Given that they are operating in a clinical setting, do they do any compulsory NHS training (when I worked for the NHS as an admin monkey a few years ago we all had to do "stat and mand" training, and anyone down to the receptionists and cleaners had to do basic life support if they were near patients.) or do they get away with it because they don't actually work for the nhs?

The Trusts I contacted said that they provided no training to Bounty. Nor did they assess the training that Bounty gave their staff, which is even more worrying. They are going on blind trust that Bounty is training its staff appropriately by the sound of it. Apparently the fact they have had a CRB check seems to be regarded as sufficient training... Go figure.

Their responses were:
17)Does the Trust train Bounty staff in anyway about sensitivity, respect and privacy of patients, particularly where there maybe women and babies who may be experiencing additional complications or problems?

a) No, the Trust does not train Bounty Staff but would not allow access to women experiencing such issues.
b) The Trust do not train Bounty staff, this is the responsibility of Bounty, but the representatives do have an awareness of respect and privacy and liaise with ward co-ordinators with regard to patients with specific needs.
c) No. Bounty Representatives are informed of Best Practice, Health & Safety and hospital policy.
d) Our processes elicit appropriate assurances from service providers of the quality and nature of the training of any staff member who is given access to our Trust.
e) Trust does not train any of the Bounty staff.

18) Does the Trust assess Bounty's staff training before any representatives are allowed on the ward?
a) No, this is the role of their employer.
b) No.
c) No. Training assessed by the Bounty area manager. Trust ensures all Bounty Representatives have enhanced CRB checks
d) See answer to question 17.
e) No

a=western sussex b=Gloucestershire c=south manchester d=central manchester e=western suffolk

Babcia Wed 07-Aug-13 23:48:10

That's a bit worrying, because from what I remember the basic statutory and mandatory training consisted of things like confidentiality, health & safety, infection control, security, child protection... pretty sure all of these things apply just as much to the Bounty lady as much as they do to the ward receptionist, maybe even more so. I don't think it would matter so much for, say, an employee of WH Smiths, who sits in their shop until their break and doesn't enter the wards, but these people are going from bed to bed, handling newborns, entering areas where clinical procedures are performed and/or security is higher than other areas, having access to medical information, etc etc. If it's not illegal it's certainly a failing in their duty of care for the NHS trusts who allow Bounty to operate to not even ensure that their training meets the minimum standard that Band 1 NHS workers are required to be trained to. Would be interesting to see if any other contracted workers are required to attend mandatory training (interestingly I started at the NHS on an agency contract, so my employer was technically the agency and I still had to do the training that directly employed NHS workers had to...hmm). I think I've been spurred on now to do some FOI crusading! Might do some letter writing tomorrow...!

RedToothBrush Thu 08-Aug-13 18:38:01

Do it Babcia... these are exactly MY concerns - my thing would be these be in their contracts and would they reveal this (so you MUST word things well or they can refuse to answer)? If you can show where they are failing you can now refer to the CQC... as you only have to demonstrate you have cause for worry over patient safeguarding, rather than an actual complaint now. The change that Dr Poulter has announced, makes a HUGE difference in who can challenge this and raise concerns about whats going on.

JackNoneReacher Sun 11-Aug-13 21:48:10

RedTooth. Standards of care on our maternity units are hit and miss. Its not unusual to hear about some great care and some pretty awful experiences from the same place. I think this is because many women who've just had babies are physically and emotionally drained, relieved to have their baby (one way or another), focussed on recovering and looking after their new baby.

When issues arise women don't always voice objections in the way they would in their normal lives or follow up with formal complaints which could have the benefit of highlighting failings and changing services for the future.

So - Thanks for all your hard work. I agree, you don't have to have children to be interested in what is happening to women who've had children.

MiaowTheCat Mon 12-Aug-13 19:19:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ICBINEG Tue 13-Aug-13 15:54:46

ohhh...I might unspam them if I get the chance to tell them where to stuff it.

missmargot Wed 14-Aug-13 17:43:10

Well done stephenthomas. I have written to the head of UHCW expressing my concerns about being due to give birth at a hospital that supports Bounty reps and allows commercial enterprises on its wards but have heard nothing back.

Fraxinus Sun 18-Aug-13 15:00:04

Many thanks for your letter outlining your concerns regarding “Bounty” services nationally and more locally here at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
As we were already aware of some concerns nationally, the postnatal ward manager and her staff over recent weeks, have periodically asked the newly delivered mothers about their experience and opinion of Bounty at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and without exception they were all extremely positive about this service.
I would like to reassure you that we would not tolerate any “hard sell” tactics and we consider privacy and dignity issues a major priority.  The Bounty representatives must notify a member of staff each time they attend the ward; the representatives are then informed if there are any women whom the staff consider (for whatever reason) inappropriate for the reps to approach.  There is not, and we would not tolerate, any harassment or coercion of our patients.
All Bounty staff who attend the department also have appropriate safeguarding clearance.
At this point in time we have no reason to consider cancelling our contract with Bounty which was renewed 7th January 2013, for five years.  However, if at any point we became concerned about inappropriate practices by Bounty personnel we would fully investigate and take any necessary and immediate action.
Thank you again for raising this with us and I would like to reassure that at all times the protection of our patients is paramount.

Fraxinus Sun 18-Aug-13 15:01:35

^ the response from my local hospital.

Not sure where to go from here, campaigners... Don't at this moment have the mental energy to argue with this response.

Any suggested replies?

Rhianna1980 Wed 21-Aug-13 23:10:51

I would reply, Cold callers should not be welcome in an NHS environment, regardless of how nice and sweet they are.

It is a hospital not a marketing field.

so if bounty can go into the nhs and advertise and promote their products, what stops the nhs letting more companies doing so?

There should be no one on the maternity ward other than NHS staff, the patients+babies+dads themselves, and the occasional family visitor. It is a hospital not a business. End of . There should be randomers wondering around a maternity unit. Pftttt

namechangesforthehardstuff Thu 22-Aug-13 15:37:38

From my local trust - I just don't think it's acceptable to say 'well no-one's complained up till now' Well no, I didn't complain up till now. But it's still fucking out of order and I've always thought so...

Thank you for your email off 11th July regarding the use of Bounty Services in the maternity unit at St George’s. I am sorry that your personal experience of Bounty Staff at St George’s was so poor. The Matron on the Postnatal Ward is very clear with the Bounty Photographer that they need to respect parents’ wishes and not intrude on those who did not want a visit. I would like to reassure you that the Matron would support any member of her staff challenging inappropriate behaviour from the Bounty Staff. The cot cards that were sponsored by Bounty are no longer used routinely in the Trust.

In your email, you asked three specific questions arising from Dan Poulter, MP’s recent letter to NHS Chief Executives. I will address these in turn in relation to practices at St George’s.

1. Are you confident you are ‘maintaining women’s dignity and respect shortly after the birth of a baby’ as the Health Minister asks of you?

Until the recent publicity regarding Bounty activity in hospital, the maternity service had not received any complaints from women regarding Bounty. The Matron for the postnatal ward, where the photographer operates, carries out frequent rounds talking to women about their experiences and she has not had any concerns raised to her about the photographers. Indeed, the only concerns raised which mention Bounty previously are those made by women who have not yet received their Bounty Pack or a visit from the photographer and do not want to be discharged until they have these. If the Matron or any of the midwives felt that a member of the Bounty staff was acting inappropriately on the ward, they would deal with this directly and raise the issue with the Bounty management team.

However, as a result of recent letters regarding Bounty, and the media profile of this issue, the Director of Midwifery, Teresa Manders is organising a survey of women on the postnatal ward to assess their experience of Bounty. An action plan will be developed following this survey and we will liaise with Bounty to make improvements as and if necessary.

2. In the light of public concern and communication from the Health Minister will you be terminating your contract with Bounty?

As stated above, prior to the recent publicity we have not had any complaints from women regarding Bounty services at the hospital. They have been active in the hospital for at least 9 years and at this stage we have no intention of terminating our contract with them.

3. When is the current contract up for renewal?

The current five year contract will expire at the end of 2014 when it will be reviewed in line with Trust policy.

I am sorry that your experience of Bounty at St George’s was poor. I hope that this letter reassures you that the contract with Bounty is closely monitored and that any issues are addressed with Bounty Staff as and when they arise.

DietPregnancyResearcher Fri 23-Aug-13 14:49:16

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

ThePFJ Thu 05-Sep-13 10:16:16

The bounty rep at the maternity ward were I was didn't ask for any details, or offer me anything all she did was come in nicely and ask all us girls 'Who hasn't got their bounty pack yet?' She handed me mine, smiled and off she went.... I loved the 'getting a present after my tiring emergency c-section' ....I think as long as there is no hard sale and they just give out the packs I am happy. I loved my mini sudocrem pot... so ickle.
Hope you don't mind me giving my opinion... but my experience was positive.

RedToothBrush Wed 11-Sep-13 20:39:16

I think if anyone is still out there, you might be interested in changes to ICO guidelines on marketing that are effective from today and will definitely affect the way Bounty work.

This is a good article about it from the register (it was written by a legal firm who specialise in this type of thing)

The basic point is, that from now on, companies have to be extremely explicit about third party marketing and who who and how may contact you. None of this opt out nonsense.

lolablu Sun 15-Sep-13 20:04:42

late to the party and dont want to go through the thread to see if this has been posted.. heres a link to where they work across the uk:

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