Background The NHS Scotland dress code policy was implemented in 2008 with the introduction of a national uniform in 2010. Historically nursing staff within SRH clinics have chosen not to wear a uniform to create a less formal environment. Within the policy it is stated that boards should conduct a full risk assessment to ensure that local policy is appropriate for different categories of staff.
Aim To gather opinions from both patients and nursing staff about the impact of the introduction of the national uniform policy within the SRH service.
Methods A patient (n=224) and nursing staff (n=13) survey was undertaken over a 10-day period in January 2012.
Results The patient survey revealed that a minority (7%) of patients preferred that nursing staff wore their own clothes with the majority (54%) having no preference on staff dress code. The nursing staff surveys revealed that the majority work within a community health centre setting (46.2%) and were moderately happy with wearing a uniform (30.8%). Convenience was identified as a very important factor when choosing to wear a uniform (53.8%). The majority of staff agreed or strongly agreed that wearing a uniform made them more approachable (46.2%) and their role more identifiable to patients (71.6%) but they neither agreed or disagreed that it increased a patient's perception of their competency (46.2%) or enhanced professionalism (30.8%).
Discussion Although there was concern that the introduction of uniforms for sexual health nursing staff might interfere with the nurse–patient relationship this has not be realised.
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