Page last updated at 05:54 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 06:54 UK

New uniforms to identify nurses

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Rosemary Kennedy, chief nursing officer for Wales, describes the new all Wales nursing uniforms.

Colour-coded nurses' uniforms to help patients in Wales recognise who is in charge on hospital wards are being unveiled.

The assembly government said the new unisex scrubs would clear up confusion about who does what.

Ward sisters will wear navy blue, clinical specialist nurses royal blue, staff nurses sky blue and healthcare support workers will wear green.

The move also follows hygiene concerns over uniforms being worn outside work.

The new uniform will see traditional starched whites making way for loose-fitting tops and trousers in the new colours that will be worn by male and female staff.

Colour-coded uniforms will make it easier for patients and their families to recognise registered nurses and ward sisters
Tina Donnelly, Royal College of Nursing

Wales's 33,000 nurses will start receiving their new uniforms - one set for every shift in the week - from October.

The assembly government also wants laundries in hospitals so uniforms are not washed at home where machines may not be able to clean them thoroughly.

It comes after concern about nurses wearing their uniforms outside work and a perception they could bring infections into hospitals.

Chief nursing officer Rosemary Kennedy said: "The research isn't strong at all on that, but there's a perception.

"So we wanted to make a uniform that was very clearly identifiable to NHS Wales."

She said a dress code for other hospital workers - including doctors - was being looked at to make sure it met the needs of religious and ethnic minority staff.

"We do have doctors floating around with white coats flapping around behind them. We have got very lax."

'Cost effective'

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," she added.

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

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) congress will next week discuss calls to introduce a similar national uniform in England.

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said: "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."



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