New uniform plans could confuse patients

CSP Scotland is urging members to respond to a new government consultation, which suggests that physiotherapists in the country wear the same uniform as nurses.

The Scottish Executive is proposing the introduction of a single unisex uniform for all NHS Scotland clinical staff who wear tunic uniforms, and one for non-clinical staff. But CSP Scotland has voiced concerns that this will confuse patients. Currently, each of the 22 Scottish health boards has a different uniform set, which amount to 250 different styles and over 100 colours. The government argues that a simpler system would be more cost effective, promote a coherent NHS image and be less confusing for patients. The new uniform for clinical staff would be a blue tunic ranging from mid-blue for registered staff and navy blue for the most senior staff, while non-registered staff would wear pale blue.  Names and designations would be heat-embossed on the tunic. However, staff who normally wear polo shirts, including some physios, can continue to do so. Claire Ronald, CSP senior negotiating officer, said the proposals were problematic. ‘There are two problems with this. One is with the research itself. Six focus groups were held with about eight people in each group, hardly a sufficient exercise to gauge the opinions of patients across Scotland. The second is the assumption that placing all clinical staff in the same uniform makes it easier to identify relevant staff. ‘Also, although patients may find the uniforms confusing, most staff in a health board area understand the system and can identify relevant staff at a glance. This is vital for physiotherapists who often have to work in wards that they do not normally cover,’ she added. Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, CSP Scotland policy officer, said: ‘We’re happy to see allied health professionals in one uniform but it has to be effectively distinguishable from nurses.’ The consultation ends on July 14.   FURTHER INFORMATION www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/05/30115423/2
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Louise Hunt

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