Under-fire Welwyn Garden City baby photo firm hits back
PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 August 2013
LOBBYISTS may have struck a blow against a Welwyn Garden City-based baby photography firm after a health watchdog was granted new powers.
"Unfortunately, Mumsnet does not seem to care about the impact their campaign could have on our business and our 550 employees."
Bounty, which earlier this year found itself at the heart of an NHS ‘cash for access’ storm, has been criticised for sending sales reps and photographers onto maternity wards across the country.
Online parenting panel Mumsnet has attracted more than 25,000 signatures on a petition opposing the company’s practices, and now the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be given more powers to deal with “inappropriate marketing”.
MPs have also complained about the firm, with 66 cross-party parliamentarians signing a Commons motion about the campaign. The company employs 120 people at its head office in Broadwater Road – and its general manager said Mumsnet “does not seem to care” about the impact its campaign will have.
Earlier this year it emerged that Bounty pays the NHS more than £13,000 for access to the maternity ward at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, where Welwyn Hatfield mums give birth.
A CQC spokesman told the Welwyn Hatfield Times it would be on the lookout for inappropriate marketing, stating: “Our longer, more in-depth inspections will last over a number of weeks which means we will pick up even particularly nuanced violations in patient care.”
Concerns have been raised over Bounty reps potentially selling on data gleaned from new mums to marketing companies.
The firm denies any wrong-doing and has previously said it has had very few complaints from NHS trusts in which it operates. Vital forms are also distributed in the firm’s new mums’ packages, including child benefit forms.
The company pays more than £2m a year for access to wards and the cash is pumped into the health service, which is then used to buy maternity equipment.
Clare Goodrham, general manager of Bounty, said: “We enforce a rigorous code of conduct, which respects mums’ privacy as well as use of any data collected.
“Bounty ladies, many of whom are mums themselves, never enter a ward without being cleared to do so by medical staff.
“We take any violation of the code of conduct seriously and regularly review it as part of our collaboration with the NHS.
“Unfortunately, Mumsnet does not seem to care about the impact their campaign could have on our business and our 550 employees.
“We employ 120 people at our head office in WGC and over 420 Bounty ladies across the country.”
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