Thursday, 27 March 2008

Stalin's dress code

Working in the NHS gulag has its pleasures and one if them is to be subjected to ridiculously verbose and authoritarian documents created by nurse managers in order to make themselves feel mighty and powerful, and make the rest of us feel rather angry and frustrated. A certain NHS trust has issued its uniform and dress policy for clinical staff, and I thought that I'd share some of its gems of wisdom with you all.

Apparently it's not only important to be clean and smart for infection control reasons, but because the public use appearance as a 'proxy measure of competence'. So anything that makes the patients happy, right? Also if one has strange religious beliefs then you can probably blag some kind of exemption from this authoritarian code by liaising with the 'Equality Steering Group', probably another group of dried up nurse managers who spend most of their time snacking on ethnic goodies.

This new code will also be enforced by the managers, as long as they have time to stray away from the cookie jars, as they will be carrying out 'Spot checks of dress and uniform compliance' and 'Questioning samples of staff regarding their knowledge of the policy'. They are very particular about footwear

'Footwear must be navy or black. They must be closed-toe and low heeled/flat, with non-slip, low noise soles. Sling-backed shoes are not acceptable.'

I despair, why on earth must the colour of my shoes be dictated to me by these mincers? Also it seems that those of us who develop stubble rapidly may have to shave midway through a long shift:

'Men must be clean-shaven or have their beard and/or moustache clean and tidy.'

While they are keen to point out the precise nature of any make-up, what constitutes an offensive tattoo and the need for no strong smells; it certainly will be hard to find that balance between body odour and deodorant use, if i stray too far in one direction will the strong odour police come sniffing?

'Make-up must be discrete (light, natural and well applied). Tattoos must remain covered if extensive or deemed offensive. Strong fragrances, body odour or the smell of tobacco must not be evident.'

No 'necklaces, chains, bracelets and ankle chains, rings with stones or ridges' are allowed. They are also rather particular about :'The wearing of earrings is limited to one pair of stud sized earrings no larger than half a centimetre in diameter' , I am sure this will make a difference to that proxy measure of competence. Apparently shoes should also be of 'low noise', I must remember to leave my talking Bob the Builder shoes at home.

What a load of gushing rot. These clipboard wielding megalomaniacs must be having so much fun drafting these lengthy diktats, in between Quality Streets of course. Hand washing is important, I have no problem with this, but dictating every little minute detail, even down to the volume and colour of one's shoes is taking things a bit too far. I wonder if the managers will be living up to this detailed dress code, and would Stalin's moustache be acceptable in today's NHS? I wonder.


GrumpyRN said...

Wait a minute!! They have stolen this almost word for word from my induction pack over 25 years ago. I remember getting into trouble as a student for daring to come into the school of nursing unshaven. Come to think of it, we were treated as children then even though I was married with 2 kids. Ah well, everything goes around in circles. Maybe the next thing will be for management to ensure that patients receive good care by making sure there are enough nurses on the wards and less wandering around with bits of paper in their hands.

Jobbing Doctor said...

The managerial class in the NHS seem to think the answer to any problem is to 'do something'. They sit in their focus groups in their London offices saying to themselves 'what shall we do?' and 'what looks good to the Daily Mail and the voters?'

Maybe they should ask themselves - why has this happened, and what did we (the managers) do to cause it?

And maybe talk to the professionals (those doing the job and not the absurd infection control mob).

Fat chance.

Fat Lazy Male Nurse said...

This looks like a fairly common uniform policy for nurses, it certainly reminds me of the policy from my days in a frock. Does it specifically state that it applies to medical staff or can you carry on wearing your slingbacks?

Garth Marenghi said...

This applies to all and sundry I believe, they probably just copied out of their nursing handbook.

Anonymous said...

I remember similar rules when I started my nurse training in the 80s. A lot of it made sense, patients might be able to grab hold of your earrings and get their fingers caught in them, rings and/or watches could scratch delicate skin and cause tears. Slingbacks wouldn't be much good if you were running in an emergency but then again neither are theatre clogs. The colour should't matter, though. Unless of course someone wanted to wear yellow shoes. That would be very wrong.

It's a shame they didn't add something like 'don't smoke 6 fags on your break then come back and breathe all over sick patients.'

the little medic said...

We had an email reminder about uniform policy today. Apparently we (medical students) are supposed to wear awful grey scrubs in all hospital areas. We are no longer allowed to wear smart clothes. Bollocks to that.

Aphra Behn said...

I wonder if it occurs to them that while this institutionalised blandness might not frighten nice, elderly, middle-class horses, it could well be intimidatingly authoritarian to slightly larger population who come from a different side of the tracks.

Hell, I'm as white, middle aged and middle class as it's possible to be, and I find piercings reassuring - they suggest that whoever I'm talking to hasn't been entirely assimilated by the Borg. And a little bit of cleavage goes a long way to brighten up an otherwise dull day.

The baby boomers have been collecting their bus-passes for a decade now. It's time to drag the dress-code kicking and screaming out of the 1950s, surely.


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