Page last updated at 05:41 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 06:41 UK

Nurse uniform to fight infection


All-Wales new nurse uniform

Nurses across Wales are to be issued with the same uniform so that patients can easily see who is in control and to help stop infection spreading.

Health Minister Edwina Hart is to announce plans to introduce an all-Wales uniform within about two years.

"I want to ensure that anyone entering our hospitals in Wales knows immediately who is a nurse and who is in charge," she said.

A design will be sought which will minimise the risk of infection.

A working group of members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the union Unison and the Royal College of Midwives was asked to investigate.

Its members were told to look at ways of improving the patient experience and empowering ward sisters and charge nurses.

Edwina Hart
A new nationally-recognised uniform will be symbolic of the individual and the organisation
Health Minister Edwina Hart

But their investigation found patients confused because there is no consistent approach on hospital uniforms.

The group came up with recommendations which will mean different staff grades in every Welsh NHS trust will have their own standard uniform to allow patients to distinguish who does what on the ward.

Other recommendations to improve hygiene, cleanliness and the patient experience will be included in the working group's report published this week.

Ms Hart said: "A new nationally-recognised uniform will be symbolic of the individual and the organisation.

"It will not only convey identity, but also a reassurance to patients and relatives and a sense of solidarity and pride among staff themselves."

The new uniform will also be designed to reduce the risk of hospital infections spreading, Ms Hart added.

She said this would help meet the commitment to improve hospital cleanliness under the One Wales document agreed by the Labour and Plaid Cymru assembly government coalition.

Daily change

The working group has suggested the uniform be short-sleeved, and will have a side button or zip to avoid pulling stained or contaminated uniforms over the head and face when changing.

It would also be available on a daily change basis with access to extra changes if required.

Richard Jones, acting director of the RCN Wales, said they saw the introduction of a single uniform as a "significant move " which would support nurses and enable patients to identify clearly the person delivering their care.

Mr Jones added: "An adequate supply of fit-for-purpose uniforms and onsite laundry facilities is a key means of combating healthcare associated infections such as MRSA and C.difficile.

"For these reasons we have been pleased to support the initiative and the wider empowering ward sisters and charge nurses project.

Dave Galligan, head of health at Unison in Wales, said the change to an all-Wales uniform would be "particularly challenging but absolutely essential".

"Nurses should not need to be washing their own uniforms or indeed wearing them outside of the workplace," he said.

"What is being proposed here will address both these issues and also help to reinforce the concept of an all-Wales NHS in practice."


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