When I had my first son in 2009 I was on the hospital ward the day after giving birth, when a lady came round with her clipboard and sample photographs. She was demanding my name and address and asking if I wanted a photo of my baby. I thought that this was an member of the NHS hospital staff. Without thinking much more about it I provided my details.
Now, after reading the article in the BMJ and an article from the NCT criticising the way ’Bounty’ is given access to new mothers and parents to collect their personal details and pass these on for commercial purposes, I feel mislead. I am especially shocked how the lady was demanding my details (asking straight up for my name and address), rather than ask whether I was willing to share my details. Neither did she say (or at least I don’t remember her saying) that she was not a member of NHS staff but from ‘Bounty’ or that she would pass on my details to third parties.
Of course, most of us do like freebees and appreciate some of the advice from the Bounty pack’s magazine. However, do we realty have to accept the fact that women are approached when they are very venerable and possibly not realising what they’re signing up for? Also, the advice in the Bounty magazine can be found elsewhere e.g. www.nct.org.uk or www.nhs.uk.
In response to the article in the BMJ, NCT’s Chief Executive Belinda Phipps said (29th May 2013):
“Our evidence shows that although the contents of the Bounty packs may seem helpful to some new parents, the majority of the women who receive them are unaware that their personal information and contact details will be sold on for commercial purposes.”
“This practice is highly questionable. Staff from organizations such as Bounty are invading personal space at an extremely vulnerable time for families to increase their profits by distributing advertising material, collecting data and selling it on. Representatives pose as helpful and may distribute samples which are welcomed by some, but their focus is not the welfare of the woman and her baby. In the hours after they have given birth, women are often very tired, highly emotional and focused on building a bond with their new baby. They need to be in an environment with assured privacy and surrounded by only those they can fully trust to put their interests first. “
“This commercially-driven manipulation of new parents inside the hospital maternity unit is potentially damaging at what should be a peaceful and happy time. NCT would like to see severe restriction on this sort of selling by profit driven companies to new parents on NHS premises.”
While I was researching this topic I also found the following articles and interesting read:
- Cashing on new mums (The Guardian, 22nd August 2011)
- Alice Roberts: Why are Bounty reps allowed on maternity wards? (The Guardian, 28th April 2013)
- This hypno-birthing quackery shows profit has no place in healthcare (The Guardian, 21st March 2013)