Page last updated at 07:46 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 08:46 UK

Nurses start wearing national uniform in Wales

The new uniform
There are about 36,000 nurses and midwives in Wales

Nurses and midwives at a hospital in west Wales have become the first to start wearing new national uniforms.

They have been designed to make it easier for patients to see who is in charge of hospital wards after research found many were confused.

They will be phased-in across Wales over the next few months.

Staff will be given more uniforms and hospitals are working to make on-site laundry and changing facilities available to control infections.

Wales is the first nation in the UK to introduce a national uniform.

The proposal for a national uniform was one of the recommendations within the Free to Lead Free to Care report.

It was published by an expert group set up by the Welsh Assembly Government to look at enhancing the role of hospital ward sisters and charge nurses.

The group found some patients were confused over who was in charge of a ward due to the range of uniforms used in different hospitals.

The new uniforms are:
The new uniform
Hospital ward sisters/charge nurses and their deputies - navy blue
Clinical nurse specialist - royal blue
Staff nurse - hospital blue
Staff midwives - postman blue
Healthcare support workers - green
Nursery nurse - aqua green
Source: Welsh Assembly Government

Chief nursing officer for Wales Rosemary Kennedy said: "It is essential that patients have confidence in the nursing profession.

"The national uniforms will help to remove any confusion over who is in charge, making it easier for people to direct a query and to have confidence in the reply they receive."

There are about 36,000 nurses and midwives in Wales and providing them all with the new uniforms will cost a total of £1.4m.

Ward Sister Marie Williams raised the issue with Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart on a previous visit to West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen which has been the first to introduce the new uniforms.

She said: "I'm stunned that an initial conversation between myself and the minister has led to the launch of the new All-Wales uniform.

"I am sure the new uniform, along with the other changes to empower ward sisters, will enhance the sense of pride nurses have in their profession."

For Welsh speakers, a bi-lingual sign will also be stitched into the uniforms following a recommendation from Hywel Dda Health Board's Welsh language steering group and the Welsh Language Board.

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