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Published on 7 January 2008

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Warning over new NHS dress code

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The Government’s new dress code policy for NHS staff which aims to limit the spread of hospital-acquired infections is “potentially dangerous”, doctors have said.

In September Health Secretary Alan Johnson outlined measures to tackle hospital bugs like Clostridium difficile and MRSA, including a new “bare-below-the-elbows” dress code which will be introduced across all acute trusts later this month.

Staff will no longer be able to wear wristwatches and the new guidance has been designed to “ensure good hand and wrist washing”.

But two medics writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), have argued that banning wristwatches for doctors is potentially dangerous.

James Henderson and Sarah McCracken, who are both specialist registrars, said doctors need a second hand to measure things like pulse and respiratory rate, especially in emergency situations.

“Most beds and examination couches in hospitals do not currently allow sight of a clock,” they said.

But a spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Patient safety must be paramount in everything the NHS does.

“A bare-below-the-elbows dress code for clinicians helps to support effective hand-washing and so reduces the risk of patients catching infections.

“It does not prevent clinicians from doing their job. We would expect clinicians to use clocks to measure pulse rates as this is good clinical practice.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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