COMMERCIAL sales reps, who sell photography services and promote nappies and skin creams, should be banned from the Royal Bolton, according to a Bolton MP.
Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, has backed a call by website Mumsnet for all NHS trusts across the country to ditch contracts with reps selling photography services and “goody bags”.
The Bolton NHS Foundation Trust allows Bounty — a commercial parenting club — to send sales reps on to maternity units to hand out goody bags filled with free samples of nappies and skin creams. But the Bolton Trust — which runs the Royal Bolton Hospital — say it has never received any complaints about the reps.
The trust also has an in-house photographer on the wards offering a new baby or family service.
Sue Anderton, head of midwifery at the Bolton trust, said: “In line with most maternity units Bounty reps do come on to the wards and I have never received a complaint about them. In fact our mums welcome the free products that they provide — having a new baby is expensive.
“We receive a fee from Bounty for this and this money goes back into the Trust.
“In terms of photographers, our own trust photographers offer a new baby or family service, but never ‘hard sell’. And the income from that again comes back into the Trust.”
Last financial year, the hospital received £4,990 from Bounty UK, and this year it will receive a further £6,385.
A national survey led by Mumsnet revealed 82 per cent of mothers thought that it was unacceptable for hard sales tactics to take place on wards.An online petition asking the government's Health Minister to get sales reps off wards has attracted 23,000 signatures.
Ms Qureshi said: “It is an invasion of privacy and should be stopped. I’m calling on the Government to ban sales reps from maternity wards.
“I’m also writing to the chairman of Bolton Hospital NHS Trust to ask that he reviews the situation at Bolton Hospital and bans sales reps from the maternity unit there.”
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts said: “We're delighted to see MPs getting behind this campaign. NHS trusts need to start putting new mothers' rights to privacy before commercial gain.”
Clare Goodrham, General Manager of Bounty, said: “Over the last 54 years, Bounty has worked in partnership with the NHS and hospitals to provide essential health information and free products to generations of new mothers.
“We are deeply disappointed that in recent weeks a direct commercial competitor, whose users we deeply respect and admire, has made inaccurate claims about Bounty.
“The wellbeing of mums continues to be our number one priority. That is why Bounty is welcomed by 99 per cent of maternity units and 92 per cent of mums say that they love the free packs thanks to the free samples, money off vouchers and health information guides.”
. This is important to all mums but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds who might not have access to this from other sources.”