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UK tightens dress code and legal rules in bid to fight HAIs


UK Health Secretary Alan Johnson has unveiled a number of measures aimed at tackling the spread of resistant pathogens in hospitals.

Mr Johnson’s plans include tightening the dress code for healthcare workers and legally requiring executives to report cases of infection to the Health Protection Agency.

The guidance on clothing will see the introduction of new “bare-below-the-elbows” rules, meaning no sleeves, watches or jewellery can be worn.

It also advises staff against wearing a tie during clinical work and could spell the end for the traditional doctors’ white coat, warning these should not “normally” be worn as the cuffs are likely to become contaminated.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m determined that patient safety, including cleanliness, should be the first priority of every NHS organisation.

“Today’s package of measures will give more responsibility to matrons and set guidelines on clothing that will help ensure thorough handwashing and prevent the spread of infections.

“This is a clear signal to patients that doctors, nurses and other clinical staff are taking their safety seriously.”

A Department of Health spokesman said all acute healthcare trusts are expected to implement the new guidance on clothing by January 2008.

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Department of Health

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