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Francis response: CNO to look into distinctive uniform for HCAs

Trusts need to make it clear to patient who is looking after them by using clear name badges, job titles and uniforms, according to the government.  

In its response to the Francis report published today the government accepted in “principle” a recommendation on staff identity labels and uniforms for nurses and healthcare assistants, and that HCAs should have their own uniform description.

It acknowledged that many organisations already do this and have developed their own distinct uniforms.

In February Robert Francis QC recommended that commissioners should require trusts to provide identity labels and uniforms and ensure healthcare support worker can be easily distinguishable from registered nurses.

In its response the government said: “We agree that patients should be clear on the role of people caring for them, for example through identity labels, clear job titles and uniforms. Many organisations already do this.”

It said the chief nursing officer would be taking forward work on “the need to provide more clarity to patients and relatives about who is looking after them”.

However, it described the idea of a set uniform for HCAs as “a complex issue”. “Healthcare support workers carry out a number of different tasks in varied roles, so a uniform description can be difficult,” it said.

The government’s full response to the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust was published today.

In its response report – Hard Truths: the journey to putting patients first – the government has accepted 281 of the 290 recommendations made by the Francis report in February. 

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Again, a really good practical common sense idea from Sir Robert. Why we don't just decide on a suite of national uniform colours for nurses and auxiliaries working in the NHS it would make identifying staff across the estate so much easier and would probably save trusts money too as they could pool orders between them.

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  • We also need to ensure that any uniform that is picked nationally for the NHS, can not then be used by care agencies. This is usually what happens in our area every time we have revamped the uniform. (Occuring during several restructures during PCG, PCT changes for the NHS staff based in the Community)

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  • The only way to ensure this is to have NHS national uniform. Already successful elsewhere.

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  • Aaron Rudd

    Absolutely agree that we need a national NHS uniform that is protected.

    If the Welsh (?and Scots?) can do it, I don't see why NHS England can't just copy them.

    Not only will that help patients moving between multiple facilities, it'll help the public learn the uniform difference as this will inevitably be shown on popular medical dramas.

    I'm fine with big name badges, I'd even go as far to recommend we have our names stitched in like the Paramedics/military do in larger print for our visually/cognitively impaired patients. More likely than not, you'll be washing your uniform at home anyway unless you're in a scrub area. For infection control, I'd prefer stitch to badge because of patients who may grab hold of the badge. But then again, you're all wearing FOB watches anyway which are far more grabbable.

    HCAs with qualifications like NVQs, cannulation etc should have the opportunity to show that on their uniform to show their high level of training and also so other staff members are aware they have specific capabilities. A new bank HCA will obviously have a smaller repetoire than a HCA with additional training.

    We could even use uniform as a starting point for a new mass-reorganisation of how we supply hospitals with equipment. the RCN believes we could save £1/2bn just with smarter equipment provision instead of duplicating our supply lines.

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