Byline: Madeleine Brindley
TRADITIONAL nurses' uniforms will be replaced with "smart scrubs" as Wales becomes the first country to introduce a standard uniform.
The new designs, which are unveiled today, will allow patients to easily tell who is in charge of hospital wards.
The uniforms have also been designed to reduce the risk of infections and are more practical than traditional dresses.
A dress code for all NHS workers is expected to be introduced later this year.
But nurses will still be responsible for washing their uniforms at home as Assembly Government officials continue to investigate whether the NHS has the capacity to launder all staff uniforms.
And not all hospitals will be able to supply all nursing staff with changing room facilities because of a lack of space.
Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "The new uniform will help instil further confidence in the nursing profession as it will ensure that people entering our hospitals in Wales know immediately who is a nurse and who is in charge." The all-Wales uniforms were designed after ward sisters had raised concerns about whether the public were able to tell who is in charge of a ward because of the huge variety of uniforms in use in Welsh hospitals.
The public had also complained about nurses wearing uniforms outside hospitals amid concern this posed an infection risk.
Rosemary Kennedy, Wales' chief nursing officer, said research had revealed that wearing a uniform outside a hospital did not pose a great infection risk but she said the new standard uniforms would tackle that perception.
"We also wanted to bring back a sense of pride," she said.
"There was pride in having the old uniform of a dress, apron, buckles and cap even though it wasn't very practical.
"Nursing is a very practical profession - nurses have to be able to move freely, lift patients and assist them in all their needs.
"We needed a uniform to enable nurses to meet these requirements." Traditional starched whites have made way for loose-fitting tops and trousers that will be worn by male and female staff.
Four new uniforms - green for healthcare support workers; sky blue for staff nurses; royal blue for clinical nurse specialists and navy for ward sisters and charge nurses - will be phased in across Wales from October.
Student nurses will continue to wear the current white tunic, with different coloured shoulder epaulettes.
Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said: "We are very pleased that Wales will have a …