Nurses uniforms are stupid

Sometimes I will write a blog and put a deliberately provocative title at the top to hook people in … however this time my sentiments are exactly what the title says … nurses uniforms are stupid !!

I hate to state the obvious but it’s been hot … very hot … and when it’s hot I starts to see a plethora of tweets about 2 things from nurses uniforms and getting enough drinking water. Whilst I would love to tackle both topics that would make this blog too long (& I have already blogged about hydration HERE) morning so I am going to focus solely on the uniform issue.

I have been nursing over 20 years now and the uniform has not changed. In fact I have a picture of me as a newly qualified nurse at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the uniform I am wearing is still the uniform at the beloved BRI.


I literally can hear some of you saying but they look smart, we love buckles and belts … and what about the hats and capes … those uniforms made us look like proper nurses! Well I am not so sure ….In the words of Professor June Girvin “We should beware of misplaced nostalgia.  As George Ball said, and we would do well to remember, ‘Nostalgia is a seductive liar’.  I wouldn’t go back there for anything.” (Nostalgia 2018)

So lets look at this through a different lens instead of rose tinted spectacles:

Hospitals, care homes, clinics and even peoples homes are hot places .. even in the winter! A uniform that is made out of tent canvass (the type of uniform you have to wash a million times before it relaxes enough not to chaffe and that can stand up on it’s own) is going to make us sweat, which is not only unpleasant for the people we care for, who we are often in close quarters with,  but also excessive sweating can contribute to dehydration … which lets face it (I am pulling no punches here) is a patient safety issue. Then there’s the whole dress issue – I have to say I have lost count of the about of times a patients hand has gone under my dress, leading to embarrassment for me and (if unintentional) embarrassment for the person I am caring for.  Not to mention the whole belt and buckle thing … have you tried moving about when restricted by one of those belts? Surely that is not conducive to our own health and safety? My belt and buckle are safely tucked away in a drawer and that is where they are staying !

Why do uniform traditions and legacies still persist in nursing? Lets look at policing and the uniform change over the last 50 years:

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Or the fire service:

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Or girl guiding:

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Or Sainsburys’s:

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I have a small confession to make now …. I confess to having started a small uniform revolution where I do some bank shifts from time to time.  The uniform is made from the aforementioned tent canvass and has a high collar and a popper down front (don’t even get me started on poppers and nursing uniforms!) … it’s hot, even in winter, it’s impractical, I can’t breathe or move in it … so I hopped onto the internet and bought a uniform of the same colour … a smart, light weight scrub top. The top allows me to move freely, not sweat and is comfy and up to the tough job of nursing … I love it.  At first I thought no one had noticed that I was technically was in the incorrect uniform and then a few weeks ago (when the hot weather started) people started asking me where I got it from … so I told them.  I have to admit to smiling a little when I last went into work and heard that the uniform was being changed to the exact top I have been wearing.  Of course I do not recommend this approach for everyone, there is a time and a place to the “seek forgiveness not ask permission” approach – I am very fortunate to have a understanding and flexible employer … however if you feel your uniform isn’t up to the job then I urge you to say something and start your own revolution.

Although the title of this blog could be construed as provocative I have to say with confidence that I stand by it … nurses uniforms are stupid.  So lets stop the nostalgia and get to grips with uniforms that are fit for modern nursing and allow us to do our jobs.

Inches and miles

I have sat down several times over the past week to write a blog post and each time written a paragraph and then given up … it’s not that I don’t have anything to say, but rather that I have too much to say ! Last week was a incredibly busy week for me, with the opportunity to talk about #70nursebloggers and #70midwifebloggers at an #NHS70 event, being on the Victoria Derbyshire show (brief appearance but there’s something about TV that is always exciting) ongoing work with the fab team at Plymouth University, plans for the We Active Challenge (go #nursesactive!) and a brilliant morning spent at Barts Health NHS Trust talking about nursing and social media and being nominated as one of the 70 most influential nurses between 1948 & 2018. Then there’s the news – Jane Cummings is stepping down as CNO, Jackie Smith is stepping down as Chief Exec of the NMC and Matt Hancock is the Secretary of State for health.  Then on a more personal note my son has broken his wrist, my daughter is just about to leave primary school and my dog has a sore paw and is on antibiotics and analgesia ….. my brain feels a little overwhelmed !!

And breathe !!


Here’s whats on my mind currently (each point a blog in it’s own right!)

  • Times are changing – for the better or for the worse I do not know, but whats probably most important is that we all keep striving to move forward
  • Being on TV in a bit scary – not sure how people do it all the time
  • How do we get more nurses blogging and sharing their wonderful work?
  • I’m not sure I am influential and feel like a bit of an interloper – what I do is connect and bring people together rather than influence.
  • The team at Southmead Hospital in Bristol are fab, my son is getting excellent care
  • 3 trips to London and 6 train journeys in the hot weather is not pleasant – kudos to those who have long journeys to work every day
  • Can’t wait for August and We Active Challenge – how can I inspire more nurse to join this year and how can we beat the AHP’s
  • Who is Matt Hancock? Does he have any healthcare background? Does he really not need any healthcare experience?
  • I love being with a group of nurses and getting them excited about the potential of social media
  • How do I get my dog to eat the rather large antibiotic tablets? Cheese??
  • I am going to have to be super organised to make it to all of the end of term things: Leavers School Production, Leavers Assembly, Leavers Disco ….the list goes on!
  • How will Jane Cummings and Jackie Smith’s departures affect nursing?
  • How will Matt Hancock affect healthcare?

With all of that down on paper, out in the open, shared with the world I am left wondering why? Why share this blog post? What is my key point? Well perhaps my first point hits the nail on the head … times are changing, in fact they are always changing, and we have to keep momentum going forward …. I am reminded of this picture about success:


Things … life even … may be complex and convoluted and seem like a large scribble on a piece of paper but lets not loose sight of the general direction in which we are all moving.  Celebrate the success of moving just one inch towards a common goal … which leaves me still concerned about the plethora of things invading my thoughts but recognising and celebrating how the past week has also seen some inches for miles.