Standardised national uniforms for healthcare professionals in clinical roles at NHS trusts across England, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, have been revealed after a lengthy consultation and design process led by NHS Supply Chain.
The diverse jobs and disciplines within the health service are represented by different colourways, which NHS Supply Chain says have been ’carefully curated’ and chosen for their ’ability to resonate nationally and create a coherent and recognisable system across the NHS’ for each professional group.
Pharmacists have been assigned a bottle green base colour, and pharmacy technicians a Sherwood green variation, both of which have a navy contrast trim.
Adoption of the NHS National Healthcare uniform is a trust-led decision and ’will be available from early 2024’, NHS Supply Chain has said.
NHS colleagues have tested the uniform throughout the design process to ensure the fit of the garments are appropriate for use in a diverse workforce.
Both scrub and dress versions of the uniform will have two waist pockets and one breast pocket, while trousers and shorts will have two cargo style pockets. The range also includes matching cultural wear so ‘all colleagues across the healthcare family will be able to wear it with pride‘, NHS Supply Chain added.
The uniform designs focus on inclusivity with non-gender specific sizing, universal appeal and cultural sensitivity being key considerations. They also incorporate sustainable fabrics including cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative and 100% recycled polyester content.
Kevin Chidlow, NHS Supply Chain director, said: ‘I would like to thank everyone who has engaged with us for [their] enthusiasm and patience. Together we are building a shared identity we can be proud of.’
Previously, NHS healthcare uniform was decided at trust level and resulted in a range of styles, colours, embroidery and rank identifiers.
The new designs and colourways will ‘bring a strengthened, unified identity to the diverse roles‘ in the NHS and offer ‘comfort and clarity to our patients, service users and visitors‘, NHS Supply Chain said.
It is estimated that if the new uniforms are universally adopted across England it will deliver around 30% savings to the NHS. This equates to around £10m over two years.
Uniforms to support professional image
The launch follows a consultation process that began in April 2022. The consultation received 50,710 responses and, according to NHS Supply Chain, 82% of respondents agreed that a standardised National Healthcare Uniform should be adopted.
Some 9% of the respondents were pharmacists, however, at the consultation‘s launch, the two pharmacy professions were not in the scope of the standard uniform plans. At the time, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) commented that it was unclear whether this was an oversight or not.
Tase Oputu, RPS England board chair, said: ‘The inclusion of pharmacists and pharmacy teams were overlooked throughout this consultation, raising concerns within our community. During the pandemic, pharmacists adopted uniforms, enhancing infection control and professionalism.
‘The RPS advocates for a standardised national uniform that aligns with existing hospital standards, preserving the progress made. We continue to press that staff comfort is crucial and should be a key consideration, which was not reflected in the consultation.
‘Additionally, the proposed standardised uniform must consider diverse religious practices and promote gender neutrality to provide an inclusive environment for everyone.‘
Through working with key representatives, these professions are now included, NHS Supply Chain said.
Medical professionals were not in scope of this project initially, however, NHS Supply Chain recognised the ‘benefit of developing a standardised national approach to uniforms for medical professionals‘ due to the widespread use of scrubs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To this end, the organisation has confirmed it will ‘engage with them in the future‘.