'Is it always clear to patients who different members of staff are?'
Jayne Parker questions why we don’t have a common colour scheme for uniforms throughout the NHS
I’ve read that the Erie Railroad produced the first company organisation chart, and if you Google it you will see it’s a thing of artistic beauty and notably has the company’s directors at the bottom.
The org chart of an NHS trust seems to have all the directors proudly at the top and the wards, departments or staff they manage in ever-decreasing text below them.
In the trust I work for we also have the corporate screen saver appearing on every PC with full-page pictures and titles of the board members; I assume this is so I know who they are if they ever graced the unit with their presence, not that this has happened in the 6 months I’ve worked there… I digress!
A relative of a patient watched the ever-changing faces on the screensaver for a few minutes and commented it would be much nicer to be clear who each of the members of staff she met on a daily basis were. She went on to explain she had recently moved down from “up North” and the colours of the uniforms were all different there, even the nurses who visited her mum at home wore the same colour as the health care assistants in the hospital.
It’s worse still on the unit as we all wear scrubs, meaning everyone from domestic to consultant is dressed alike. I mentioned we wear ID badges but her reply was that the text is far too small for her and her short-sighted mum had no chance.
“everyone from domestic to consultant is dressed alike”
I think she has a good point; it should be clear and obvious to all who the different members of staff are regardless of setting or location.
This could lead to issues with the blurring of perceived responsibilities and the public not knowing who is registered and so responsible to a code of conduct (be that NMC, HCP or GMC) and who is HCA or AP.
My idea is, I think, simple: all NHS care settings (and companies providing services on behalf of the NHS) to have a common colour scheme for the MDT roles.
Students in white, HCAs grey, staff nurses pale blue etc. and include colours for medics, AHP’s, admin and so on.
For all settings, particularly those with no uniform or where all staff wear the same uniform, badges should be worn with the colour borders (or backgrounds?) and large, bold, clear, easy to read text with name and title.
In this way, the patient or client would be able to ask for a nurse and be sure they were talking to a nurse (or doctor, physio) in whichever trust and irrespective of being in an acute hospital or community setting.
The corporate screen saver could be adjusted to introduce the colours and some of the “less noted” members of staff like the domestics, catering or porters without whom the place would simply collapse.
Jayne Parker is a staff nurse working for the NHS and living in the South East with her partner, a cat and a large motorcycle.