Mumsnet Bounty Mutiny campaign: the story so far
After 82% of you told us you feel it's unacceptable for the NHS to allow commercial companies access to patients, we decided it was time for a ban on Bounty sales reps in postnatal wards – and launched our Bounty Mutiny campaign.
As Mumsnet users often say: nobody would allow mobility aids sales reps to roam orthopaedic surgery wards – so why on earth do we allow commercial sales reps to intrude on mothers’ privacy on postnatal wards?
Our survey of more than 1000 Mumsnet users disclosed alarming levels of dissatisfaction, with over half (56%) of new mothers saying they felt a Bounty rep had invaded their privacy. As this survey was in 2013 – before GDPR – 60% also said they were not specifically told their personal details would be passed on to other companies.
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.”
- 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 (pre-GDPR); and
- 29% felt pressurised to have their baby's photograph taken.
Our survey followed an editorial in the British Medical Journal by Dr Margaret McCartney, which 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 founder, said at the time: “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. NHS trusts should review their contracts with any such organisations, particularly in the light of trading standards guidelines about selling to vulnerable people.”
Our campaign provoked a strong response. The petition asking the HMRC to review its relationship with Bounty gathered nearly 70,000 signatures and a separate petition to the-then minister for maternity services Dr Dan Poulter gathered nearly 27,000 supporters. Dr Poulter told NHS trusts that they had to ‘get a grip’ on the situation, and the Care Quality Commission was asked to intervene if patients’ dignity was compromised.
A former Bounty lady came forward to share her story, and lots of NHS trusts contacted us to say they would be ending their contracts or taking steps to ensure that good practice was being followed.
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.
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.