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Guy’s and Tommy’s brings in ‘nurse in charge’ armbands


Distinctive red armbands for senior nursing staff are being introduced at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust so patients know who is in charge.

The initiative is similar to those being considered by several other hospitals around the country, but is believed to be the first using armbands.

The “nurse in charge” armbands were trialled on the trust’s surgical wards following comments from patients who said it could be difficult to know who the senior nurse on a ward was.

“The armbands are like those worn by football team captains”

Eileen Sills

The trust said it initially tested a range of methods for identifying the nurse in charge of a ward, including badges and bibs.

As well as being clearly visible, it noted that it was essential that any new materials complied with standards for infection control, were cost effective and comfortable to wear.

After the armbands were introduced on trial wards, the trust said patients and visitors provided feedback that it was easier to quickly establish who the nurse in charge was, which was “helpful and reassuring”.

They will be introduced in all clinical areas of Guy’s and St Thomas’ over the coming months, said the trust.

Dame Eileen Sills, the trust’s chief nurse and director of patient experience, said: “The armbands are like those worn by football team captains so that they can be easily identified.

“Our ‘nurse in charge’ armbands show who is the most senior person responsible for the nursing team on a ward,” she said.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, staff at a hospital in Watford are trialling a badge that shows other professionals, patients and relatives they are the “nurse in charge”.

The 10-ward medical division at Watford General Hospital, run by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, started testing the badge last month.

A similar initiative was started by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust in January, using red “shift leader” badges.


Readers' comments (10)

  • Well let us hope they remain on the ward to nurse and don't have to attend some meeting or other which is so often the case.

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  • Used to be able to tell by hat size and demeanour in my student days!

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  • Anonymous | 30-Jun-2015 6:42 pm
    So true! :)

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  • Oh Crikey - please don't bring the useless hats back! Anyone who needs to wear a hat to feel like a nurse should be ashamed of themselves.

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  • What a really modern idea. So helpful for patients and (probably more importantly) visitors i.e. relatives. They will know who to approach. They'll know who to ask for assistance and to rest assured that they will get that assistance.
    State of the art improvement in nursing care…….have never heard of it until today !
    Something to look forward to and a big thank you to whomsoever thought of it.

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  • Whatever happened to simply asking 'who's in charge?' or 'who can I speak to about Mrs Smith?'

    My Trust is using a yellow lanyard for the 'ward co-ordinator', but the lanyard is most often seen looped over a computer screen. Does that suggest that the computer is in charge?

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  • Anon 201 they're getting you ready for when the computers take over the wards. Get used to your new overlords.

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  • I had great problems with my guy's hat. they were supposed to have six flutes behind and mine always had five or seven even after three and a half years practice. tommy's had the same but they wore theirs back to front which caused a lot of mirth and giggles among my peers when we had a visiting tommy's midwifery sister who came to lecture to us. then disaster struck, there was a strike and grave economic cutbacks which hit the laundry and the starch the put on our hats. somebody had the idea to go and pilfer some x-ray film and scrub all the images off it so we could cut it into semi-circles to stiffen our hats and without which they just collapsed! x0x

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  • Been using nurse in charge badges in my wards for about 3 years based on patient feedback nothing new for us in the biggest trust in East Midlands. The arm band is a good idea though. Let's just not forget to introduce ourselves properly to the patient with speech rather than body language :-)

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  • It is reassuring to know who is in charge or senior...however it should also be apparent by the behaviours and leadership qualities on the shift

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