The NHS National Healthcare Uniform project is aimed at transforming the approach to uniform provision across NHS trusts in England. The project delivers exceptional value for money, enhanced sustainability, improved professional image, and fosters an inclusive culture in which everybody feels seen, respected, and valued.
The NHS in England spends around £23 million every year on uniforms and the cost per garment varies hugely around the country; as each trust has its own style and colours.
NHS Supply Chain leads the project to introduce a nationally standardised approach to uniforms, which will considerably simplify the process; introducing a standardised, high quality, innovative uniform developed in collaboration with health care professionals.
The initiative will yield a saving of approximately 30% nationally and follows that of the devolved nations, encapsulating values of innovation, adaptability, and unity. The project represents a significant step forward across the NHS in England.
The scope of this project covers professionals working within clinical roles, equating to approximately 600,000 wearers, including Allied Health Professions, Healthcare Sciences, Midwifery, Nursing and Pharmacy.
Latest updates and events
See our Useful Links section to keep up to date with all of the latest news about our NHS National Healthcare Uniform including:
- Colourways palette See our Downloads ▼ section
- The Social Impact of The NHS National Uniform
- National Healthcare Uniform – Our Project Values.
Over the next few months, our teams will be attending the following events with samples of the new uniform available for you to see.
- Nursing Live in Liverpool 10 -11 November 2023
- HCSA Winter Conference in Manchester 28-29 November 2023.
The carefully curated colourways were chosen to provide a coherent and recognisable visual system across the NHS. The chosen base colours and contrast trim for the smart scrub top will clearly denote each professional group. See our Downloads ▼ section for the full breakdown of the colours for each profession within the scope of this project.
Patient and Visitor Engagement – This initiative promises future-proofing benefits and an enhanced professional identity for our dedicated workforce. The updated uniform brings comfort and clarity to our patients, service users, and visitors. Navigating the healthcare landscape can be overwhelming, especially during challenging circumstances. By adopting the National Healthcare Uniform, trusts can help facilitate better recognition and understanding.
Professional Image and Suitability – The new uniform was developed with continuous input from trusts, NHS England, and professional bodies such as the National Midwifery Council, The Royal College of Nursing and crucially end users. The NHS National Healthcare Uniform strikes a balance between modern design and functionality. The design has evolved throughout the life of the project incorporating feedback from colleagues who have trialled the uniform in situ. The new design incorporates measures which have been evaluated to ensure they meet durability requirements, are a comfortable weight and offer breathability and manoeuvrability. The garments are offered in an extended range of sizes and lengths, and includes a full maternity range.
Value for Money – This process has resulted in an average cost saving of 30%, nationally this equates to over £10 million over a two-year period. Additionally, the standardisation of uniforms across trusts means staff transferring would not require new uniforms, further reducing expenditure. By engaging with our Implementation and Adoption team, each trust can access our bespoke financial tool to establish the exact impact on their budget. This tool requires only the number of staff, current uniform costs, and allocation rate to compute the potential savings.
Sustainability – The fabric is constructed utilising only cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and our suppliers are committed to ensuring high standards of health and wellbeing throughout the supply chain and will be audited to ensure compliance. In addition, the NHS National Healthcare Uniform will use 100% recycled polyester content, providing a clear example of carbon reduction. The recycling of redundant uniforms is not included in the garment cost to ensure that fair garment comparison can be made when establishing the financial impact or savings of adopting the new uniform. Where trusts do not have existing arrangements both of our awarded suppliers can provide details of a third party provider who can compliantly recycle redundant garments and provide estimated costings. Recycling of garments can be discussed with trusts on an individual basis during the implementation process. These efforts reflect a commitment to fighting climate change and promoting overall sustainability.
Inclusive for all wearers – Our new NHS National Uniform has been designed with a universal appeal and cultural sensitivity, ensuring every member of our diverse workforce feels recognised and valued. We’ve replaced traditional sizing with a non-gender-specific system (for example U1, U2, U3) empowering all individuals to choose uniforms that reflect their identities. This inclusive strategy strengthens our workforce and resonates throughout the communities we serve. This range also includes matching cultural wear, so all colleagues across the healthcare family will be able to wear it with pride.
Results of consultation
Initial consultations: patients and visitors
To ensure the project was viable, NHS Supply Chain: Facilities and Office Solutions commissioned an independent survey of patients and visitors across several NHS trusts which found:
- 55% of patients were unable to easily identify senior members of staff via their uniforms.
- 88% of patients thought the same uniforms should be worn nationally.
Working with NHS England representatives and more than 200 clinical professionals representing trusts from across England, a series of workshops was hosted to identify key themes. This feedback formed the national workforce consultation. A series of questions were posed to identify the most important design features for wearers including flexibility and manoeuvrability, cultural sensitivity and inclusivity, and storage suitable for holding necessary medical tools.
- The consultation received 50,710 responses, over half of these from nursing professionals, followed by Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and midwives.
- 82% of respondents agreed that a standardised National Healthcare Uniform should be adopted.
Respondents were also asked to identify their preferred garment style.
- The smart scrub tunic style was the most popular with 49% of respondents preferring it.
Building on the initial feedback from stakeholders in the workforce consultation, a design brief was sculpted and suppliers presented garments tailored to these specifications. To refine our approach, these prototypes underwent two phases of rigorous field tests:
Phase one: Supported by NHS England, 10 trusts representing all health and care settings and professions, took part in a blind wash and wear trial.
- 1,000 garment sets were distributed across these 10 wearer trial sites.
- Colleagues wore the garments and provided feedback as to how they performed in a live working environment.
- More than 400 colleagues responded, and their feedback was used to outline what the most important features of the garments were.
Phase two: Coupling this invaluable feedback with insights from independent industry experts, we honed a comprehensive garment specification, which was once again trialled in situ.
- 87% stated the garments provided a full range of movement.
- 73% stated the fabric supported a comfortable temperature.
- Wearers said the uniform was easy to launder and required little to no ironing.
Register your interest
A form for customers to use when registering interest in joining a forum, working group or panel.
Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL) is the Management function of NHS Supply Chain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Following feedback on the open consultation we have identified some themes and frequently asked questions:
When we launched the consultation in April 2022, we knew that taking some time out of incredibly busy days and nights for our NHS colleagues might be difficult. We questioned ourselves if it was the right time. However, we have the responsibility to ensure the NHS has a compliant contract in place for uniforms to enable the NHS to provide the fit-for-purpose garments our NHS workforce deserves. Our aim is to develop a uniform that is aligned with this objective.
To ensure that this project was viable, extensive engagement was conducted with Trusts, Senior Leaders, Professional Bodies and Unions to ensure the NHS National Healthcare Uniform best fits the needs of the NHS.
Working with NHS England representatives and more than 200 clinical professionals, representing trusts from across England, a series of workshops were hosted to identify key themes, including: the requirements for the garments fit and function, the importance of the professional identity and other key factors.
This feedback was used to form the National Workforce consultation, with the aim to determine whether there was an appetite for a national approach to uniforms with end wearers. The consultation received an astonishing 50,710 responses, with over half from nursing professionals, followed by Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and midwives. 82% of respondents agreed that a standardised National Healthcare Uniform should be adopted.
Around 9% of responses came from other professions including Pharmacists and Healthcare Scientists, who at that point were not in scope. However, through working with key representatives from these professions are now included.
The five key objectives and potential benefits of this project are:
· Better recognition and understanding for patients
· Enhanced professional image
· Inclusion across the diverse workforce
· Value for money
This uniform has been designed for NHS professions working in clinical roles in England including Allied Health Professions, Healthcare Sciences, Midwifery, Nursing and Pharmacy. NHS colleagues have tested the uniform, throughout the process, to ensure the fit of the garments are appropriate for use in a diverse workforce.
The scope of the NHS National Healthcare Uniform covers all trusts including acute, community and mental health settings. NHS Supply Chain are working with trusts who would like to adopt the uniform to help determine which role sits within which colourways in their trust, whilst still maintaining the overall benefits of the national approach.
Yes, if these groups currently wear a uniform and are part of the NHS workforce. It has been suggested that having uniform consistency across all settings could help provide better understanding across the entire patient pathway.
For Paramedics, there is a separate NHS Supply Chain framework for National Ambulance Uniforms and General Workwear.
Medical Practitioners were not in scope of this project initially, but we understand during COVID many Medical Practitioners were wearing scrubs. We recognise the benefit of developing a standardised national approach to uniforms for medical professionals and we will engage with them in the future.
Adoption of the NHS National Healthcare uniform is a trust-led decision.
If you would like to register your interest in adopting the uniform within your trust, please get in touch with us via email@example.com.
We are aware that there are many clinical settings where it is not deemed appropriate to wear a uniform because of the effect this may have on a patient. It is not the intention of this proposal to change that.
Following extensive engagement with a range of stakeholders from across the NHS, it was clear that colour should be the primary identifier for different professions and roles.
We are pleased to be able to share with you the colourways for the NHS National Healthcare Uniform in England which will be available from Summer 2024.
See our Downloads ▼ section for the NHS National Healthcare Uniform colourways palette.
Yes. The NHS workforce reflects the diverse communities that they take care of across the country.
This uniform created for the future encompasses and celebrates the differences across our varied workforce. The design meets the needs of a modern, diverse, and inclusive health service. It is culturally sensitive and does not discriminate against anybody on the grounds of age, disability, gender, pregnancy, relationships, race, religion, or beliefs; allowing all NHS employees to thrive.
NHS colleagues have tested the uniform, throughout the process, to ensure the fit of the garments are appropriate for use in a diverse workforce.
No. By harnessing the full purchasing power of the NHS and standardising our design, materials and colours, we are able to reduce the cost of uniforms whilst at the same time ensuring we procure a high quality garment which meets the needs of our Healthcare Professionals. The actual savings to be made by each trust will vary depending on the current price, but across England we can deliver around 30% savings. This equates to around £10 million over two years if we all adopt the new uniform.
Current Uniforms will not immediately be replaced. The NHS National Healthcare Uniform will be phased in at the end of the life cycle of current uniforms to reduce wastage. We are committed to mapping out the ethical, environmental, and social impact of both the rollout of this uniform nationally and the development of robust end of product life processing, such as uniform recycling.
The NHS National Healthcare Uniform will be available to early adopters looking to place orders for delivery Summer 2024. If you would like to register your interest in adopting the uniform within your trust please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Communication around the adoption and rollout of the NHS National Healthcare Uniform would be made at trust level. We will support trusts to share the information with patients.
The NHS National Healthcare Uniform has been designed for all body types. We want to offer a uniform that is well designed, high quality and inclusive for all. We are working very closely with our suppliers and specialists to do this and have undertaken extensive wearer trials with NHS staff from different professions to ensure this uniform is the best possible fit and truly represents the diversity of the NHS workforce.
As well as the smart scrub top, dresses have been included in the scope of the NHS National Healthcare Uniforms and will be available for staff to wear. Dresses are available across all colourways.
The smart scrub and dress will have two waist pockets and one breast pockets, the trousers and shorts will have two cargo style pockets.
As embroidery can cost up to 30% of the overall garment cost, the decision has been made to not include personalised embroidery. It will also enable the wearer to take the garments with them should they work in another setting. The smart scrub and dress will feature the NHS logo and the trousers and shorts will have an NHS tax tab included.
The NHS National Healthcare Uniform will provide comfort for all wearers, including those who are peri-menopausal or menopausal. In comparison to a traditional tunic, our chosen fabric is considerably lighter, offering a cooler wearing experience. Additionally, this fabric incorporates at least 10% mechanical stretch, further enhancing comfort for wearers.