Mumsnet letter to prime minister David Cameron

Mumsnet logo12 June 2013

David Cameron
10 Downing Street

To Rt Hon David Cameron MP
CC Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health
Sir David Nicholson, CEO NHS

Dear David

I am writing to ask you to urgently review the practice of Bounty sales representatives operating on NHS wards, particularly in the light of the 2008 Unfair Trading Regulations regarding aggressive commercial practices.

We recently conducted a survey of Mumsnet users and found compelling evidence of poor practice that clearly violates Bounty's own code of conduct. The data we are sharing refers only to births after May 2012, when Bounty updated their guidelines following a series of serious complaints. Our results clearly show that many of their sales representatives are still acting inappropriately.

  • 56% of new mothers felt the Bounty representative invaded their privacy
  • 29% reported that the Bounty representative interrupted them while they were feeding their baby
  • 55% said that the Bounty representative came at an inconvenient time for them and their baby
  • 29% felt pressurised to have their baby's photograph taken
  • 60% were not specifically told that their personal details would be passed on to other companies
  • 17% were given the impression that they could not claim Child Benefit if they did not give their personal details to the Bounty representative
  • 48% were not told that giving their details was voluntary
  • 82% of respondents don't think hospitals should allow sales representatives access to wards at all

We believe hospital inpatients - particularly shortly after a gruelling physical event such as childbirth - shouldn't be subjected to such practices. NHS endorsement of Bounty is implicit in the way Bounty works with such ease within hospitals.

There is a time and a place for direct sales, and it's not on postnatal wards, hours after women have given birth. Women rightly expect hospital wards to be a safe place, and targeting new mothers at their most vulnerable is simply not on.

I know you are committed to an NHS that puts patients first, and am sure you will also share these concerns. Hospital trusts need to be given clear guidance that contracts with such organisations should explicitly exclude direct sales reps from in-patient wards.

Mumsnet users are really hoping you will act to ensure that hospital wards are places where women can recover from birth without being treated as sales targets. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Yours sincerely

Justine Roberts
CEO of Mumsnet


June 2013

Last updated: over 1 year ago