Skip to content

NHS Uniforms: what healthcare clothing should you wear?

  • by

It can be confusing for both clinical and non-clinical NHS staff to know what to wear. Every trust has its own uniform guidelines and all levels of NHS workers have different styles.
How do you start the process of finding uniforms for your NHS staff?

You should narrow down the process of choosing a new NHS uniform. There are many levels of guidelines that will help you narrow down your choices.

General guidelines for all NHS staff.
Your employer has established uniform guidelines – the NHS trust.
Your trust will provide you with a list of options for your particular clinical or non-clinical role.

All NHS Staff General Principles of Dress

When searching for a new uniform such as NHS rainbow fleece in healthcare, the first thing to do is to review the guidelines for uniform design.

Although the following are general principles, they should not be considered a complete guideline. Staff should be aware that they will need to follow additional guidelines. All staff must adhere to the uniform standards of their trust.

Uniform – You must follow these guidelines. Casual dress is not allowed.
Shoes – All footwear should be closed and have a low heel.
Uniform Cleanliness: All uniforms must be neat and clean, and all garments should be washed immediately after each wear according to the care instructions and infection control guidelines.
Personal hygiene: All hair should be neatly combed and tucked back. Perfumes should not be too strong and fingernails must be kept clean.
Identification badges – Your identity badges are essential for you to be identifiable throughout your shift.
Jewellery – Must be discreet, small and not interfere with your work.
Smoking – Staff members who smoke in public areas must cover their uniforms and badges.

The dress code of your trust

Now you need to consider what your trust allows. Each NHS trust has its own uniform and accessory guidelines. Every NHS trust also has a unique colour-coding system that is specific to each job role.

Your employer should have explained what standards you are expected to meet when you start working at your trust. This information can also be found on the websites of many trusts, which can be found here.

Talk to your HR department at your trust or line manager if you are unsure of what you should wear.

What uniform options are there for clinical staff?

Comfortable scrubs are the best way of reducing the risk of contamination. To keep scrubs clean and presentable, wash them at 60o each day in accordance with the infection control guidelines.

While you must adhere to the uniform color of your job title, there are many options for scrubs.

Top & Trouser Mix

You can wear a tunic with a pair or trousers. You can choose to have the entire outfit in one colour, or you can have contrast colors such as black or navy.

Many clinical staff prefer separates for their comfort during long shifts.

Dress Tunic

Some trusts allow you to choose from separates as well as dresses. Dresses are available in classic, striped and mandarin collar styles. They must be below the knee and accompanied with plain hosiery, unless it is very hot.


The norm is that shoes should have a closed toe and a closed heel. Non-lace options are preferable to allow for cleaning. This will improve infection control.

Consider these things when purchasing a uniform

Protection – Consider your uniform as a barrier against germs. Make sure it is sterilized and capable of stopping the spread bacteria and bodily fluids. This can be achieved by choosing the right uniform for your job, and washing it frequently.
Comfort is as important as safety. Shoes that don’t rub or scrubs that aren’t too tight are good choices. These little things can make or break your mood during shift.
Personal preference – You have to decide what is best for you. Some clinicians prefer a tunic, while others prefer separates.