Nurses at the RCN Congress have voted in favour of a national uniform for nurses in England.
In Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland there are now standardised uniforms for nurses, but not in England.
The motion, proposed by Damian Ronksley, of the RCN’s Association of Student Nurses, said a uniform for NHS staff helps to promote a more professional image of nurses and other health care staff.
Patients can identify who is caring for them because similar uniforms make it difficult to differentiate between a matron, nurse, doctor, nursing student or healthcare assistant.
‘There is evidence to suggest that uniforms help to project a more professional image of nurses and healthcare staff,’ said Mr Ronskley.
He added that a tunic-style uniform, similar to the one now in use in Scotland, would help to preserve the dignity of nurses.
‘Our uniforms tend to be made of polyester that is uncomfortable and can come undone at the most inopportune moment,’ he said.
However, some delegates were not convinced because mental health patients’ dignity could suffer if they are visited in the day time by a uniformed nurse.
Non-voting member, Lisa Lester, said: ‘To be able to visit people discreetly in their own home is crucial to my work. If you force me to wear a uniform I will be forced to protest and go naked!’
After the motion was altered to reflect the concerns of community nurses, it was passed by a margin of 76% in favour to 24% against.