A ‘standardised’ uniform for general practice nurses (GPNs) working in England is to be considered in the coming months, Nursing in Practice has been told.
The news comes after the NHS Supply Chain unveiled a new uniform colourway for staff working at NHS trusts in England earlier this week, which saw most nursing roles adopting a shade of blue.
An NHS spokesperson confirmed that GPNs were not in the initial scope of this new NHS National Healthcare Uniform scheme.
But they added: ‘We recognise the benefit of developing a standardised national approach to uniforms for general practice nurses and we will look at the opportunities for this over the next few months.’
Launched by NHS Supply Chain on Tuesday, the national uniform has been designed for NHS professionals in clinical roles, including those working in the community who typically wear uniforms, at NHS trusts.
Under the uniform’s ’colourways’ system, the different jobs and disciplines within the health service are represented by a varying colour palette.
Various shades of blue have been attributed to most nursing roles, healthcare assistants shall wear lilac, matrons will wear a darker purple and advanced practitioners will wear dark red.
However, concerns have been raised among the nursing community around the job descriptions used in the colourway. For example, the use of ‘nursing practitioners’ and ‘nurse’ instead of ‘registered nurse’.
Some among the profession had taken to social media to raise their concerns, including chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute Dr Crystal Oldman who said: ‘I don’t think this can be right. Where is Registered Nurse and what is a Nursing Practitioner? This can’t be the full story.’
Adoption of the NHS National Healthcare uniform is a trust-led decision and will be available to ‘early adopters looking to place orders for delivery Summer 2024’, the NHS Supply Chain has said.
Both scrub and dress versions of the uniform will have two waist pockets and one breast pocket, while trousers and shorts will have two cargo style pockets.
The launch follows a consultation process that began in April 2022. The consultation received 50,710 responses, with more than half of them from nursing professionals. According to NHS Supply Chain, 82% of respondents agreed that a standardised National Healthcare Uniform should be adopted.
Kevin Chidlow, NHS Supply Chain director, said: ‘I would like to thank everyone who has engaged with us for [their] enthusiasm and patience. Together we are building a shared identity we can be proud of.’
According to NHS Supply Chain, potential benefits of the new uniform are better recognition and understanding for patients and enhanced professional image.
In response to concerns around the job descriptors used, Mr Chidlow added: ‘It is not our intention to change job roles and titles, the NHS National Healthcare Uniform project is aimed at transforming the approach to uniform provision across NHS trusts in England.
‘The descriptions and titles used for the colourways of the NHS National Healthcare Uniform were designed to be generic so that a variety of roles can go into the colour scheme.’
He added that the organisation was ‘actively engaging with our pathfinder trusts and senior stakeholders to understand where it is clinically appropriate for professions to align to the chosen colourways’.
‘This will then form the basis of national guidance,’ he said. ‘We will continue to listen to feedback and engage accordingly.’
Patricia Marquis, director of England at the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘Nursing staff wear their uniforms with pride. NHS England consulted with organisations across the sector – it is important that uniforms are comfortable, recognisable to patients, and practical for clinical settings.
‘Professional identity is important to nursing staff, and we would like it to be clear that the title of a registered nurse, and levels of practice are reflected in the uniform descriptor.’