A leading Scots GP claims the NHS is profiting from allowing pregnant women's details to be sold to commercial companies, often without their full knowledge or consent. Glasgow GP Dr Margaret McCartney also warns that the NHS and professional bodies such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) are guilty of a conflict of interest by collaborating in the advertising of thousands of products to pregnant women and new mothers.
She also criticises Bounty, a promotions company which supplies 2.6 million Bounty bags a year to new mothers, including 812,000 newborn packs distributed through NHS maternity wards. Many of the mothers who sign up to receive Bounty Bags while in hospital are not aware they are agreeing to their email address and telephone number being used by commercial companies, she argues. In some cases they do not even realise the person collecting the information is not an NHS employee, while the inclusion of a child-benefit application form in the packs gives them an "air of officialdom".
Dr McCartney said: "The lack of knowledge about what signing over your details means is troubling in a hospital environment, which should take consent and confidentiality seriously. The hours after birth are hardly an optimal time to obtain formal consent. Do we want parents placed under advertising pressure and for NHS doctors, radiographers and midwives to be the conduit?"