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Hospitals: Infectious Diseases

Department of Health written question – answered on 14th March 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Health)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have assessed the amount of infection brought into hospitals by staff uniforms worn outside.

Photo of Lord Prior of Brampton Lord Prior of Brampton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health

The Department first published Uniforms and Work wear: An evidence base for developing local policy in 2007, with an update to this guidance published in March 2010. A copy of this document is attached.

The guidance was informed by two extensive literature reviews conducted by Thames Valley University and by practical research on washing uniform fabrics carried out at University College Hospital. Whilst there is a theoretical risk, this work‎ supported the conclusion that there was no evidence that uniforms and workwear played a direct role in spreading infection.

Nonetheless, the clothes that staff wear should facilitate good practice and minimise any risk to patients. Public attitudes and perceptions indicate that it is good practice for staff either to change at work or to cover their uniforms as they travel to and from work. Changing into and out of uniforms at work is included as a good practice example in the guidance.

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