Bounty Mutiny update: does allowing Bounty salespeople onto maternity wards breach UK laws?
We received a copy of this email from Rosie Carter from safeguarding organisation Safe CIC, yesterday. Sent to Health Minister Dan Poulter MP and GP Dr Margaret McCartney, it raises some serious questions about the legality of Bounty's practices.
We will be bringing it to the notice of David Nicholson and to the Chief Executives of the relevant hospital trusts, and will keep you up to date if and when we hear their views.
Dear Margaret and Dan,
I am the MD of the not-for-profit organisation SAFE, dedicated to raising standards for adult and child safeguarding.
I have been reading the above feature in the Daily Mail today: editors_choice about the sales reps who visit new mothers in hospital wards and I notice there is an online petition which to date has some 16,770 signatures.
I am emailing you Dan, as our local MP and you Margaret, as a rightfully concerned GP; as there are two serious legal problems about sales reps being on wards, I refer below to the law in England but it will be similar across the UK.
As I am sure you both will know, any mother aged over 18 (she is a child if under 18 and the Children Act 1989 would apply) in hospital falls under the definition of being a vulnerable adult by the:
a. 1997 Consultation "Who Decides?" issued by the Lord Chancellor's Department: "Who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of disability, age or illness; and is or may be unable to take care of unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation" and
b. Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 "Vulnerable adults (1) A person is a vulnerable adult if he has attained the age of 18 and —
(a) he is in residential accommodation
(d) he receives any form of health care
(2) Residential accommodation is accommodation provided for a person —
(a) in connection with any care or nursing he requires,
(6) Health care includes treatment, therapy or palliative care of any description."
- I am seriously concerned that the NHS seems to be oblivious to these definitions and that patients may not be in a position to make informed decisions about giving out their personal details, or other permissions to sales reps who are on the wards. In my view, any new mother could take serious legal dispute with any hospital that does not protect her or her baby from exploitation whilst she is in their care. I also note HMRC are involved with this to save money when sending out benefit forms and would consider HMRC also has a duty of care towards the welfare of mothers when sending out benefit forms via Bounty. It defeats me why HMRC do not simply email the forms to hospitals for new mothers which would be even cheaper.
- I am further concerned that Bounty are quoted as saying they CRB (I think they mean DBS ) check their staff. I am extremely dubious about this statement as this would never have been legally possible under the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. Under the current Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 such staff still do not fit the eligibility criteria for DBS checking as they do not provide health services:
- In summary, to have unchecked regular external visitors on a hospital ward for non-clinical reasons and who are neither family or friends of patients is scandalous. This is putting both new born babies and their mothers at unnecessary safeguarding risks, not least as these reps take cameras on to wards and are also taking pictures of new born babies.
I look forward to hearing from you both and, if you need any more information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I will be signing the petition with the outline of the law as included in this letter.
Rosie Carter M.A.(Ed)
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