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Call for national uniform for nurses in England


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.


Readers' comments (5)

  • I may be being cynical, but th reason why employers are going to resist this, is so that they can continue to confuse patients and relatives about the true staffing levels on wards. A practice that has been employed for years.

    Even though l am a nurse when l have visited relatives in hospital, l have found it extremely difficult to identify the qualified from the unqualified staff.

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  • Professionalism in Nursing.

    A uniform does not make a professional nurse, its your bedside manner and caring attitude that patients see! Being cared for by someone who knows what they are doing and ACTING in a professional manner is what makes us a profession, Lets face it, not everyone makes the uniform look good!

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  • I agree uniforms do project a professional image. Although this is regarding community nurses I believe patients can become very confused in hospitals with so many different uniforms. I would like to have the same colour uniforms for staff nurses, ward sisters, matrons and auxiliary nurses throughout the UK. Some patients travel to other hospitals outside their area and must get confused.

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  • Wearing a uniform in nursing helps the patient to identify who is who on the ward in some psychiatric units uniforms are not worn, some nurses and patients would like to see uniforms in psychiatric units and some do not for eg how about when a patient has to be escorted off the ward would people realise more easily that it was a psychiatric patient being escorted out. However the visitng of patients at home whether they have a mental illness or not I do not think it makes diffrence if the nurse wears a uniform or not because some psychiatric patients are visited by district nurses who wear uniforms but are there for the patient's physical health. I personally am not a big fan of uniforms but maybe all patients who have experience and still are psychiatric patients should be the ones who decides whether psychiatric nurses should wear uniforms.

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  • We have an issue in our trust at the moment that band 4 assistant practitioners wear the same uniform as staff nurses. I think this is highly inappropriate and confuses the patients.

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