Teresa has backed a call for hospitals within the Bexley-Oxleas NHS Trust to remove commercial sales reps from ante-natal wards. Run by the website Mumsnet, the campaign is calling for hospitals across the country to ditch contracts with companies who send sales reps onto maternity wards to sell photography services and collect personal data – at the same time as giving out ‘goody bags’ of free samples and promotional leaflets.
82% of mothers surveyed thought that it was unacceptable for these hard sales tactics to take place on hospital wards, and the Mumsnet campaign has attracted support from a broad range of organisations, clinicians and academics. An online petition asking the government’s Health Minister to get sales reps off the wards has attracted over 23,000 signatures.
The government has written to all health trusts asking them to review the situation. Some hospital trusts have already announced that they will be cancelling contracts as a result, or are actively reviewing their arrangements with companies such as Bounty.
“While I don’t doubt there are some very good Bounty sales representatives, evidence indicates that a lot of women are feeling forced into purchasing products whilst on maternity wards. Having a baby is a very emotional and overwhelming time. I am concerned that there are unscrupulous sales reps exploiting the fact women are in no position to negotiate, and are willing to agree to anything just to be left in peace.
New mothers can be very receptive to anything which they are told will be beneficial for their babies. It worries me that sales reps are using this to their advantage by claiming that their products must be purchased, when this is not true. Sales reps can be difficult to deal with at any time, and it is unacceptable that commercial companies are allowed to intrude on the privacy of new mothers when they are trying to bond with their babies. The welfare of new mothers and their babies must be prioritised, and this practice must be stopped.”
Responding to Teresa’s support, Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said:
“We’re delighted to see MPs getting behind this campaign. Everybody loves a freebie, but 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 need to start putting new mothers’ rights to privacy before commercial gain, and we hope that Teresa Pearce MP can help us apply more pressure to end this practice.”