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Uniforms rear their ugly heads again


Have nurses met their match in a poly-cotton blend? Beyond the Bedpan senses you’ve some strong opinions when it comes to caps and capes.

Nurses, you’re a tough bunch. A lot comes your way in the course of your working week - gruelling shifts, innumerable workplace hazards, variable respect from your esteemed medical colleagues - and you bear it with style. Bring it on, that’s what you say.

But messing with your body clock and your immune system is one thing.

It’s quite another when someone tries to kit you out in an itchy, ugly or weird-coloured uniform.

At least that’s what you said when Nursing Times reported on the new student uniforms that were unveiled at King’s College this week. Have a look at them here. Created by a fashion student, they might be a hit on the catwalk, but still, you weren’t impressed. At least the new rags are just for students and aren’t intended to be used in practice.

It seems that the uniforms have brought out a touch of Gok Wan in our readers.

“Oh my gosh, could the colours have been any worse?” one commenter asked.

“So glad I am not a student there. What were they thinking?” protested another.

“They’ll make anyone more than stick-thin look like a house,” said a third.

Another summed it up nicely in text-speak: “OMG!”

And it wasn’t just the new kit’s style credentials you objected to. You also sensed some throwback, sexist sensibilities at play.

“As for a return to hats - whatever next??? Re-introduction of belts or capes perhaps?” one shocked commenter quipped.

“These uniforms smack of nursing hand maidens… atrocious,” said another.

A third wrote: “Never mind the hats….are they wearing stockings? Who could gripe about professional status when they get the chance to be lusted after by every perv in the country!”

“Why oh why does nursing as a profession want to live in the 1950’s?” another reflected.

Beyond the Bedpan has to say we’re with you on this one. After all, the whole profession is at stake. As one commenter said: “Why not have a uniform which demonstrates professionalism? Teachers, architects, lawyers….none of them wear a frilly hat* for work.”

*If we’re being fair, a couple of you stood up for hats. We weren’t sure if you were kidding.


Readers' comments (14)

  • i trained too many years ago to remember but i loved my hat and my apron. the hat covered a multitude of sins if you were having a bad hair day and i know they didn't really serve a purpose but i still loved my hat!

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  • In my opinion - and from previous experience where scrub style uniforms were used throughout the hospital and were colour coded for different grades/jobs - I feel that a scrub style uniform is the best way to go, much more practicable for manual handling operations involved with daily nursing and much more comfortable and practical than stupid standard uniforms. As for hats, well just another thing to get in the way and cause headaches for infection prevention practitioners!

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  • There never was a great deal wrong with the uniformss of yesteryear. They were smart, professional looking and highlighted the grade of the Nurse wearing them.

    The fact that the average doctor may often present himself as a refugee from a third world nation, (especially on night duty) is no reason for Nurses to follow the medical lead.

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  • There are a myriad of fabrics available today that are breathable and flexible. Just take a look at sailing and sporting garments. Lets be able to move freely and deal with sweatier moments of our day. Uniforms should be comfortable first. Second they should be smart enough to feel confident whilst wearing. Patients like to know who the nurses are. It is very difficult to do that today. Hats mark out nurses very well. They get my vote.

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  • oh my goodness! these uniforms are absolutely horrid, initially when i looked at the photograph i thought it may have been an old one dug up from the archieves possibly from the '70s.

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  • I remember a moving and handling expert spending ages designing the 'perfect' uniform: no sleeve seams for better arm movement, no darts, long enough tunics to enable stretching the body in the correct way without showing off anything unslightly!! And they didn't have the problem that theatre gowns do: bras or chest ashowing unless risking overheating by wearing a vest/T shirt underneath... However they weren't taken up due to cost, which, at the end of the day has a higher priority me thinx!! I have no problem with hats/ bandanas if they allow unrestricted movement and inhibit infection risks. Personally, when washing beds after patient discharge (an underestimated, important job) my hat would get in the way or fall off - also what goes for women should not differ that much for male nurses, so traditional nursing hats for me are a no-no... they don't work for bald heads either.

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  • How can we call ourselves a profession when we still can't decide on a uniform. I strongly believe that there should be a way for Patients to know who the nurses are. As annonymous 22/05/2010 remarked 'It is very difficult to do that today'. However I don't think that hats is the way to go. A uniform that is practical, comfortable and professional.
    The article remarks that certain professions don't wear hats i.e. lawyers - no they are just have wigs and capes!!

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  • The hats are not being introduced. This picture was taken at the Westminster Abbey celebration of Florence Nightingale's life and everyone there wore them not only the Kings students.

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  • Of course Scotish nurses have adopted the 'national uniform' approach.

    See >

    Trousers and tunics - no head gear! Haven't heard many complaints from staff or patients yet.

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  • I am very proud to be a nurse and was pleased to gain my buckle at the end of my training. I also wore a hat and a cape but I am not over 50. I did not feel as if i could not stand tall, in actual fact,I felt taller due to my hat. Patients liked them as they could tell who you were along with the dresses, we are here (supposedly but this seems forgotten sometimes)for patients.Nurses look very scruffy and unprofessional most of the time with hair not tied back and jewelery, even if we can't have hats at least make an effort with what we have. I do think the Scottish have a good look.

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