Maternity staff vote for standardised uniform

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has seen its members vote for a new standardised uniform for maternity staff.

Following an NHS Supply Chain consultation on uniforms in England, RCM conducted its own survey on the topic – to find out what midwives and maternity support workers think about their uniforms and if they would change anything.

The survey, which had over 5,000 respondents, asked whether there should be a standardised uniform – and 74 per cent of those that replied said yes.

Other notable takeaways from the survey are that 93 per cent of respondents felt there should be a “distinct look”, to differentiate maternity staff from other healthcare professionals.

This, said RCM Chief Executive, Gill Walton, was due to the importance of “identity” and associations between that and the idea of “safety” that maternity services should represent, as well as the ability for midwifes to have a “voice” within the health service.

Walton commented: “The identity of a midwife has a strong link to the safety of maternity services. Safety is embedded in the ability of midwives to be able to empower women, to be their advocates at all levels and to make sure the care they receive is right for them.

“When midwives are confused with another profession their identity gets lost and so does their voice, not only for themselves, but for the women in their care. Even a nursing-style uniform can disrupt this relationship.

“The survey results are the voice of our members calling for autonomy over their professional identity but also deep rooted in that call is the need to be better recognised by the women they are looking after. Role confusion also impedes the midwife voice throughout the NHS, which is key to the future development of safe services.”

On what to wear, RCM says that results reflected the varied roles within maternity services, which include a range of desk-based and more physical jobs. From a choice of “ordinary scrubs, smart scrubs, tunic and trousers, dress and polo shirt and trousers,” smart scrubs were the preferred option, securing 68 per cent of the vote.