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Nursing uniform in England could be standardised next summer

Consultation shows majority of nurses back a common NHS uniform – with one clear favourite
Picture shows two women dressed in smart scrubs

Consultation shows majority of nurses back a common NHS uniform – with one clear favourite

Standardised uniforms for nurses and other healthcare staff in England could be introduced next summer, after the proposal received backing from a large majority in a seven-week consultation by NHS Supply Chain.

Smart scrub tunics are the preferred uniform choice among the thousands of nurses and healthcare staff who responded to the consultation.

Samples for trials could be produced as soon as this autumn

NHS Supply Chain hotel services director Kevin Chidlow said the findings will be used to help produce a design. ‘This will evolve during the tender process and will include comprehensive wearer trials and

Consultation shows majority of nurses back a common NHS uniform – with one clear favourite

Picture shows two women dressed in smart scrubs
Picture: iStock

Standardised uniforms for nurses and other healthcare staff in England could be introduced next summer, after the proposal received backing from a large majority in a seven-week consultation by NHS Supply Chain.

Smart scrub tunics are the preferred uniform choice among the thousands of nurses and healthcare staff who responded to the consultation.

Samples for trials could be produced as soon as this autumn

NHS Supply Chain hotel services director Kevin Chidlow said the findings will be used to help produce a design. ‘This will evolve during the tender process and will include comprehensive wearer trials and feedback before a final design is agreed. We will continue to engage across the NHS to finalise design and colourways.’

In the consultation, which closed on 31 May, 82% (41,654) of the 50,798 people who responded said they were in favour of a common uniform across NHS hospital and community settings in England. Nurses made up more than half of those who favoured a common uniform, and of those who supported the idea, 83% (34,573) said its introduction should be mandatory.

Talks will now be held between NHS Supply Chain and others, including NHS England, NHS Improvement and the RCN, on whether standard uniforms should be introduced. Samples for trials could be produced as soon as this autumn.

NHS Supply Chain said, if introduced, standardised uniforms would distinguish between different professions, but details are still being discussed. The potential benefits of one shared style include helping patients to identify staff, it said.

The smart scrub tunic was preferred by 49% (24,891) of respondents, with the tunic in second place with 32% (16,255) and the scrub in third with 19% (9,652). A detailed report on the consultation results, expanding on respondents’ views, will be released in July.

Easy identification of which healthcare professional is providing care

At the time the consultation was announced, chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: ‘We want patients and the public to be able to easily identify which nursing, midwifery or care professional is providing their care. Keeping patients and staff safe is fundamental to this consultation.’

In January 2020, Nursing Standard conducted a reader survey about uniform standardisation, in which 82% (1,684) of the 2,054 people who responded said they favoured a common uniform.

NHS employers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have used standardised uniforms for the past decade.


Find out more

NHS Supply Chain: National Healthcare Uniform Workforce Consultation


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