This is TOC writer Leong Sze Hian’s letter to TODAY, published on July 13, 2007.
I refer to recent media reports about hospitals allowing salespeople into maternity wards to sell products and services to patients.
It has been reported that vendors would have to follow strict guidelines on etiquette and respect of privacy. If this is indeed the case, how is it that, as reported, a patient was woken up twice in the same day by saleswomen who walked into her room to push baby photography and foot impression services?
How is it possible that vendors are allowed to check ward details at the nurses' stations before knocking on patients' rooms to promote their wares?
Since many of the patients interviewed said they would rather not have such vendors come to their bedside, this practice of giving permission to vendors should be properly reviewed.
I wonder why public hospitals even give permission to vendors? Are there any benefits to the hospital? Do vendors have to pay a fee, or are hospitals paid a percentage of the sales made? Will more vendors be calling at hospitals now that it has been profiled in the media? How do hospitals decide which vendors to allow, and which ones to reject?