Sick Kids’ staff told to clean up their act on dress code

STAFF at the Capital’s Sick Kids’ hospital have been ordered to ditch long nails, varnish and jewellery to cut the risk of infections.

Although a surprise inspection found that the hospital was clean, concerns were raised after domestic workers and porters were spotted wearing watches and bracelets, and clinical staff were caught out with varnished long nails and ‘stoned rings’ on their fingers.

It meant the Sick Kids’ staff members were in breach of national NHS dress code guidance, which is aimed at minimising the risk of infection and cross-contamination.

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Tightening up the dress code was one of three areas which NHS Lothian was ordered to improve following the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate probe into cleanliness and infection risks last month.

The health board was also told to ensure senior charge nurses have oversight of all infection prevention and control activity in their areas and to follow waste management rules, after clinical examination gloves and white aprons were found in domestic waste bins. The requirements marred an otherwise positive report, which said staff were generally aware of their responsibilities and were seen regularly washing their hands by patients.

Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack welcomed the evidence of good practice, but said action must be taken to ensure the issues highlighted are addressed.

She also raised questions about the fabric of the Sick Kids’ building, which was not looked at by inspectors. Ms Boyack added: “It has long been acknowledged that the building is not fit for purpose and we are still over four years away from having a new hospital. It has been almost two years since the Scottish Government decided against public funding for the new Sick Kids and delayed the project.”