I must admit to being a little surprised at how few practices insist on staff changing out of uniform to travel to and from work.
As part of a multimodal approach to infection control, and to maintain a professional image, I believe it essential that staff only wear their uniform when on practice premises.
Infection control is achieved through multiple factors in your practice – some common to all, and some individual to the building/caseload you see. Basics such as wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and regular hand washing should be observed in all practices. However, I see wearing your uniform only in practice as another layer in our infection control policy.
Maintaining a professional image is of even greater importance if you are an RVN and wear your badge. For example, should problems arise with infection control in your practice, do you want to be the one known to wear your uniform to the shops, pub, or even human hospitals?
When I was a locum I made each practice aware of my personal infection control between practices: I autoclaved scissors, used new pens, wore washable antibacterial shoes and had different coloured scrubs for normal and isolation work – I even carried spare scrubs to change into should the need arise (you can never tell when a little surprise will come your way).
There have been claims NHS staff do not need to remove uniforms after work, but I think the NHS Wales uniform and dress code policy proves this assertion incorrect. It also offers some options for those occasions when there are no changing facilities on-site. It’s also worth reading if you feel your infection control protocol needs updating.
Infection control is a team effort, don’t be the one that lets that team down.