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By Chris Smith Tuesday 06 August 2013 Updated: 07/08 17:49
UNIVERSITY Hospital is resisting fresh pressure to ban so-called Bounty ladies from its postnatal wards after it was revealed the firm was paying thousands of pounds every year to sell products to new mums.
It comes after all three city MPs backed calls for a total ban on marketing in hospitals.
Andy Hardy, chief executive of the hospital trust, said just one complaint had been received about the Bounty ladies, who hand out information packs, and offer deals on photography and baby accessories.
And he even claimed the hospital's own research showed some mothers were disappointed not to have got the chance to buy products from the firm.
We reported in June how a leading city councillor called into question their presence after national reports of high-pressure sales techniques being used by reps elsewhere in the country.
On Tuesday it was revealed Bounty had paid £84,000 to the hospital over the past three years. During that time 18,000 babies have been born there.
Coun Steven Thomas, chairman of the council's health scrutiny board, said: "These figures reveal that UHCW values a new mum’s privacy at just £4.66. I am shocked the trust places such a low value on these private moments which ought to be priceless.
"Although UHCW say they have not received any official complaints about this issue, I have received feedback from mums who would have complained but did not bother because when they were discharged their only concern is their new baby.
“I think the hospital needs to be more assiduous in collecting new mum’s feedback because there is a danger that new mums and dads could think that these people are members of staff.
“We wouldn’t tolerate sales reps prowling around bereaved families in hospitals, so why should the families of newborn babies be seen as fair game for the hard sell?"
Bounty has had a presence at 1,250-bed University Hospital since it opened in 2006.
Mr Hardy said there was no case for a ban.
He said no personal information about new mums and their babies was shared with or sold to Bounty or any other businesses, and all Bounty workers had advanced Disclosure and Barry Service checks - formerly Criminal Records Bureau checks - and were monitored by the hospital's own staff.
He said there had been no complaints as a result of June's media coverage and their own research via social media was responded to by four people, none of whom said they were pressured during their stay while two expressed concern they did not see a Bounty representative.
Mr Hardy added: "We have also had one written complaint from a mother about being approached since we responded to Coun Thomas and we have noticed there have been three letters in local media from women supporting Bounty representatives on wards.
"This means out of the 18,000 mums we cared for over the last three years, more than 99 per cent have not expressed a concern to us about the Bounty women and as such we do not feel it is in keeping with what they want to cancel a service that the vast majority of women are in support of."
It is understood NHS Highland and Poole NHS foundation trusts have become the first to end their contracts with Bounty.
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