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Hospital nurses in Wales to wear colour-coded uniforms
May '09
New all-Wales uniforms for NHS nurses – designed so that patients can easily see who is in charge of hospital wards – have been unveiled. In addition, more uniforms will be provided, and along with this, hospitals are working to identify on-site laundry and changing facilities. This should help to prevent and control healthcare associated infections.

The uniforms for Healthcare Support Workers to hospital wards sisters/ charge nurses will be phased in across Wales from October 2009.

The recommendation for the new national uniform was proposed by a group established by the Assembly Government and included representatives from the Royal College of Nursing, UNISON and the Royal College of Midwives.

Currently, different grades in every NHS Trust in Wales have their own uniform and there is no consistency across Wales.

The group said that patients are confused over who is in charge of the ward due to the range of uniforms that exist. It also said that it makes it hard to direct a query, and what level of confidence they can have in that reply, which can undermine confidence in the profession and NHS.

The recommendation was also based on public concern over nursing staff uniforms being worn outside work which is seen as posing an infection risk.

Wales is the first UK country to suggest introducing a national uniform for nurses.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said:

“The new uniform will help to instil further confidence in the nursing profession as it will ensure that people entering our hospitals in Wales know immediately who is a nurse and who is in charge.

“I am pleased that the nursing profession has been involved in the development and design of the new uniforms.

"Uniforms need to be regularly replaced and having a consistent design, and buying in bulk will be more cost effective.”

Unveiling the new uniforms at the University of Glamorgan, the Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, Rosemary Kennedy, added:

“The new simple designs will be clearly identifiable by all staff, patients and public accessing NHS hospitals across Wales.

“Having more uniforms and on-site laundry and changing facilities will help to prevent and reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections.

"There will be ample supply of uniforms to enable staff to change, if their uniforms get dirty while on shift.”

The Director of the Royal College of Nursing Wales, Tina Donnelly, said:

"We are very pleased that Wales will have a national uniform for hospital-based nurses. Uniforms can instil a sense of pride and community feeling and boost morale. Colour-coded uniforms will make it easier for patients and their families to recognise registered nurses and ward sisters. Availability of changing rooms and laundry services will cut down on hospital acquired infections.”

Dave Galligan, Head of Health at UNISON in Wales, said:

“This will help patients, staff and visitors alike to know who is who on Ward Nursing Teams without there being any confusion. In addition, the on-site arrangements for laundry and changing facilities will aid in the battle against hospital acquired infections as well as improving public confidence that uniforms will not be worn outside the workplace.”

Head of the Royal College of Midwives in Wales, Helen Rogers, said:

“The Royal College of Midwives welcomes the fact that midwives will be clearly identifiable, not only to the women that they are looking after, but also to other health care professionals.”

Welsh Assembly Government

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