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Mental health nurses back in uniform after decade


A team of mental health nursing staff at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust have opted to start wearing uniforms again more than 10 years after they originally discarded them.

The move by Hillingdon Psychiatric Liaison Team will be piloted following a vote and consultation with acute hospital staff and patients. The majority were in support of wearing a uniform.

“It keeps us compliant with infection control policies”

Anthony McShane

Kim Cox, the trust’s Hillingdon Borough director for mental health services, said: “I think they look really smart, which is good for patients to see too.

“This still in the pilot stage and we will do another survey in a few weeks’ time to see how people –staff and patients – feel about the change,” she added.

Anthony McShane, the team’s leader who works as a psychiatric liaison nurse, said: “The idea for uniforms came up a few months ago in a conversation among the team.

“It was suggested that we trial polo shirts and tunics within the liaison team. Support for the decision came after gathering feedback from our hospital colleagues, who liked the idea,” he said.

“We are piloting the initiative for a few months, gathering as much feedback from colleagues and patients to see how we proceed,” said Mr McShane.

Noting that the team spent most of its time in hospital settings, he added: “It keeps us compliant with infection control policies.”

The option was also offered to the teams at Hillingdon older people’s inpatient services, who will start wearing uniforms soon.

The trust has almost 7,000 staff providing integrated healthcare to a third of London’s population, Milton Keynes and areas beyond.


Readers' comments (18)

  • doesn't look like much of a uniform , more like a dress code

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  • ESSEX have been wearing a uniforms for a number of years. south originally and now north have followed .. not new

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  • I'll be interested to know how this goes so hope to see your survey results/evaluation. My personal preference is for all patient facing staff to be in uniform, for reasons of professional image and infection control compliance as you say, yet have been challenged by many saying that it creates a barrier and is unnecessary. Please report back through NT?

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  • Brought back uniform in Pennine over the last 2 months. Good idea for dementia services, but terrible for other acute settings. I take my patients out in to the community - how much more obvious and stigmatising is it when I have to wear a uniform to do so? Yes, people in hospital are unwell and it should be seen as an illness like any physical issue (like on the general side), but these people aren't in for a few days or a couple of weeks. It's months, years. Seeing white and blue tunics every day has made us look more like an 'institution', nameless faceless staff, and less like individual people that you can talk to on a level with.

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  • LIncolnshire Partnership Foundation Mental Health Trust Liason Team also wear uniforms. I agree with the above comment re stigmatising patients

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  • I spent the last 15 years of my career in community CAMHS and there is no way on earth I would countenance wearing a uniform in such a setting or any other community MH service.

    Showing up on someone's doorstep in uniform? Bit of a give away what's going on. But who cares about confidentiality.

    Trying to do school observation in uniform? Hmmmmm, just a tad obvious what you are...

    Perhaps in some ward settings there is an argument to be made for uniforms, but community MH? No, not at all.

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  • I agree with the comments about wearing uniform stigmatising clients with mental health problems, I thought the days of 'men in white coats coming to get you' were long gone.

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  • I feel all mental health staff should be in uniform, why would anyone due a 'kids run' in a work based uniform?
    When I was a student nurse and we had proper matrons, we were not allowed outside the hospital without covering our uniform.
    One of the problems of not wearing uniforms was that often patients / visitors could not tell who was a patient and who were staff.
    Community MH staff could simply wear a coat/ jacket, so many hospital staff wear their uniforms in supermarkets, even at boot sale ... but why not ask the patients what they feel?
    In my areas staff have been in uniforms for many years and it works well.

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  • Good about time I had a friend I was visiting few years back and you couldnt tell the Pts . From rhe Visitors sometimes!!

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  • Wearing coats no top of
    Uniforms when outside the hospital? It's 30C outside today!! And Janet Jory if you were visiting a patient on a ward, I'm sure you could tell who to approach if you needed help, but to be able to tell who is a patient and who is staff is surely being nosey! No need to know who is a patient as long as you have someone to approach. Someone let you onto the ward, right?

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