NHS Uniforms: what healthcare clothing should you wear?

Clinical and non-clinical NHS staff can find it confusing knowing what to wear. All levels of NHS workers have their own uniform guidelines, and every trust has slightly different practices. 

That’s why Alexandra, the UK’s #1 medical clothing specialist, have put together this guide to help you find your perfect NHS uniform:

How to begin the process of finding your NHS staff uniform

The process of selecting a new NHS uniform should be one of narrowing down. This is because there are different levels of guidelines that help you to gradually lessen your options.

  1. General NHS uniform guidelines for all staff.
  2. Uniform guidelines laid out by your specific employer - your NHS trust.
  3. The list of options available for your specific clinical or non-clinical role as laid out by your trust.

All NHS Staff General Principles for Dress

The first thing you should do when finding a new healthcare uniform is to remind yourself of the general NHS uniform guidelines. 

While the following is a list of general principles, they should be seen as a foundation. Clinical staff should note that they will be subject to further guidelines and all staff should always adhere to their own trust’s uniform standards.

  • Uniform – Must follow the guidelines, casual dress is not permitted.
  • Footwear – In all areas, footwear must be closed and low heeled.
  • Uniform Cleanliness – All uniform must be clean and tidy, and all garments must be washed after one wear in line with care instructions and infection control guidelines.
  • Personal hygiene – All hair must be clean and neat and long hair should be tied back. Fingernails should be thoroughly clean and short, and perfumes shouldn’t be overpowering.
  • ID badges – You must always be easily identifiable, so a trust identity badge and a name badge must be worn throughout your shift.
  • Jewellery – Must be small, discreet and not impede your work.
  • Smoking – If staff members smoke in public areas, their uniform and name badges must be covered.

Your trust’s principles for dress

You should now make sure you consider what’s permitted by your trust. Every NHS trust has different guidelines for uniform and accessory standards, and each has a different colour-coding system for individual job roles.

When you started work at your trust, your employer should have outlined what uniform standards are expected of you. Many trusts also outline this information on their websites which can be found on this list of NHS trusts.

If you’re ever unsure about what you should be wearing, speak to your line manager or your trust’s HR department.

What uniform options are available to clinical staff?

Scrubs should be worn as they are comfortable and the best way to reduce the risk of contamination.  Scrubs should be washed at 60º daily in line with infection control guidelines and ironed in line with garments care instructions to ensure they’re clean and presentable.

Whilst conforming to the uniform colour of your respective job title, the options for your scrubs are:

Top & Trouser Combination

A tunic and a pair of trousers, or a tunic and a pair of trousers. The entire outfit can either be one solid colour or the trousers can be a contrast such as navy or black.

Separates are preferred by many clinical staff for their comfort on long shifts.  All options are available at Alexandra who can ensure you get the correct size with their expert fitters.

Scrub Tunic by AlexandraScrub Tunic by Alexandra
Scrub Tunic
Zip Front Dress Tunic by AlexandraZip Front Dress Tunic by Alexandra
Zip Front Dress Tunic

Dress Tunic

As well as separates, some trusts will allow a choice of dresses. Available in striped, classic collar and mandarin collar versions, dresses must sit below the knee and be accompanied by plain hosiery unless the weather is extremely hot. 

Made from colourfast and durable fabric, Alexandra can provide quality nursing dresses at affordable prices. 

Shoes

Typical guidelines state that all shoes must be a closed-toe and closed heel. To improve infection control, non-lace options are preferred to allow for cleaning. Alexandra’s range of Skechers and Toffeln branded footwear offer comfort and style when you’re on your feet for 12 hours a day

ToffeIn AktivLite by AlexandraToffeIn AktivLite by Alexandra
ToffeIn AktivLite
Easycare Men's Long Sleeve Shirt by AlexandraEasycare Men's Long Sleeve Shirt by Alexandra
Easycare Men's Long Sleeve Shirt

What uniform options are available to non-clinical staff?

If you don’t work directly with patients you have more uniform options. So, as long as your clothing conforms to your trust’s and NHS principles, the following suggestions from Alexandra include:

Business Separates

A conservative-coloured shirt or blouse paired with straight, dark trousers. NM90 choice for any work environment

Dresses

A classically-cut and dark coloured dress, preferably in a bodycon or midi style. This presents a professional image whilst also being durable and comfortable.

Cadenza women's short sleeve dress by AlexandraCadenza women's short sleeve dress by Alexandra
Cadenza women's short sleeve dress
Anvil Traction Georgia Court Shoe by AlexandraAnvil Traction Georgia Court Shoe by Alexandra
Anvil Traction Georgia Court Shoe

Shoes

Classically-styled and darkly coloured footwear should be worn: brogues for men and low-heeled shoes for women.

What to consider when buying a uniform?

  • Protection - Think of your uniform as a germ barrier. Ensure it’s sterilised and able to stop the spread of bacteria and bodily fluids. Achieve this by wearing the right uniform for your job and washing it regularly.
  • Comfort - Long hours and overnight shifts mean comfort is just as important as protection. Choose footwear that won’t rub and scrubs that aren’t too tight. These small things will make or break your mood on shift.
  • Personal Preference - Ultimately you have to choose what works for you. Some clinicians love to wear a tunic dress, but others prefer separates.

Alexandra are specialist suppliers of NHS clothing, and our team of manufacturers are the UK’s #1 for medical clothing, including doctor and nurse uniforms and accessories. See our range here.

How to find you next healthcare uniform infographicHow to find you next healthcare uniform infographic
How to find you next healthcare uniform