Whoever was it that decided it was a good idea to allow sales reps onto maternity wards?
Since I first realised that commercial parenting clubs like Bounty were allowed free access to brand new mums on wards, I’ve been certain how I feel about it; Maternity wards are a place for family and friends, for new parents to be with each other, for resting and preparing (as much as one can) for the new experiences ahead. They are not a place for sales reps peddling their wares and extracting personal information to sell on to others.
Yet in maternity wards across the country Bounty sales reps abound and an alarming number of new parents are reporting feeling harassed and pestered by them. Even worse some are reporting being misled, lied to and disrespected at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. Why is this being allowed in our NHS? And why is Bounty being paid by HMRC to distribute Child Benefit forms as they travel the wards?
In 2011 – 2012 HMRC paid Bounty £90,000 to distribute Child Benefit claim forms within the packs that they hand out to new parents on wards. Bounty has become the only paid vehicle for distribution of these important forms. Why? Why not give the forms out when a birth is registered – a sure fire way to reach 100% of new parents without the involvement of a commercial enterprise and the blurred boundaries that this seems to have created.
Child Benefit forms and Bounty’s role in distributing them has become a hot topic over the past few months of this campaign, as it has emerged that some Bounty reps have been misleading parents about the need to hand over their personal information to the rep, before they can have the form. This abuse of the situation Bounty has found itself in, as the main distributor of the form (by a very long shot) needs to stop.
Over 25,000 have signed the petition calling on Health Minister Dan Poulter MP to ban commercial parenting clubs like Bounty from maternity wards. We now need to shift our focus to HMRC. The distribution of Child Benefit forms should not be done through a commercial enterprise, there are more suitable routes for distribution. And by removing the Child Benefit form from Bounty packs, any false sense of legitimacy that has been given to Bounty by handing out this important form will be removed.
I hope you will sign and share this petition addressed to Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP.