North Wales nurses see red over new national uniform

Reporter:

Matt Sims

NEW nurses’ uniforms introduced by the region’s NHS trust are leaving a number of wearers with rashes.

The new all-Wales uniforms have been introduced in an attempt to make it easier for patients to identify different grades of nurses.

They have been rolled out for staff at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, the group which covers GPs, primary care services, hospitals, mental health and community care across the region.

A spokesman for the health board said the uniforms had been given to 5,000 nurses, with about 150 complaining of skin irritation.

He added: “Until the testing by the manufacturers has been completed and they have established the cause of the problem and the way to overcome this we have advised affected staff to continue to use their previous uniforms.”

A Welsh Assembly Government spokeswoman said other uniforms were available to use for those suffering rashes.

She said: “Although only a minority of nurses have reported skin irritation, we are concerned as the welfare of our staff is paramount.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and the two health boards (the uniforms have also been introduced in Carmarthenshire) are ensuring that those experiencing discomfort have support from their occupational health team.

“As only a minority of staff have reported a problem, we have sufficient supplies of alternative uniforms for use. We are also working in partnership with RCN and UNISON to address any concerns.

“We are disappointed with this news, as the fabric used to manufacture the uniforms underwent extensive testing and quality control by both the suppliers and an independent accredited testing body before the contract was awarded.

Extensive trials were also undertaken and no skin irritation was reported.

“Robust testing of the fabric is currently being undertaken by an independent body to establish the exact nature of the problem and, through our contractual arrangements, we expect the manufacturers to put this right."

Wales is the first nation across the UK to introduce a national uniform. Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said: “It’s imperative that if there are staff suffering with irritation that they contact the occupational health department and get the right diagnosis.”

See full story in the Leader

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