Nurses at West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen became the first to wear the country’s national colour-coded uniforms for hospital nursing staff.
The introduction of the uniform follows a report suggesting patients found it hard to differentiate healthcare assistants from registered nurses, and how to identify who was in charge of the ward. The “Free to Lead Free to Care” report, published in June 2008 by a task force appointed by the Welsh Assembly, looked in particular at the need to increase the profile of ward sisters and charge nurses.
Launching the uniform today, Welsh health minister Edwina Hart said: “The idea to enhance the role of ward sisters and charge nurses came from frontline nurses in Carmarthen so it is great to return here today to see how the recommendation for a national uniform has become a reality.
“These new-style uniforms are a simple yet effective way to help patients identify who is in charge on a ward as soon as they enter our hospitals. Having a consistent design will also make it more cost effective as it allows uniforms to be bulk-purchased.”
The Welsh Assembly also said hospitals were working on providing staff laundries and changing rooms to help control the spread of infections.
Wales is the first UK country to introduce standard NHS nursing uniforms. All 36,000 nurses and midwives are due to be provided with their uniforms by the end of a year at a cost of £1.4m.
Chief Nursing Officer for Wales Rosemary Kennedy said: “The national uniforms will help to remove any confusion over who is in charge, making it easier for people to direct a query and to have confidence in the reply they receive.”
Ward sister Marie Williams, who spoke to Ms Hart about the need to empower ward sisters in Wales during a previous visit to West Wales General Hospital, added: “I’m stunned that an initial conversation between myself and the minister has led to the launch of the new all-Wales uniform. I am sure the new uniform, along with the other changes to empower ward sisters, will enhance the sense of pride nurses have in their profession.”
The uniforms are described as:
- Navy blue for hospital ward sisters/charge nurses and their deputies;
- Royal blue for clinical nurse specialists;
- Hospital blue for staff nurses;
- Postman blue for staff midwives;
- Green for healthcare support workers;
- Aqua green for nursery nurses.