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'Nurses' nails put patients at risk'
FASHION-conscious nurses are putting patients at risk by wearing fake nails and varnish, new research has suggested.
A national poll of nearly 500 student nurses found infection control lapses were com- monplace, with 60 per cent reporting nail polish and extensions being used.
The Royal College of Nursing said the findings were ‘worrying’, as fake nails and polish can harbour bacteria and prevent good hand hygiene.
The Lancashire Telegraph asked Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals what guidance its staff were given.
Hayley Citrine, acting chief nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We have a clear commitment that staff in clinical areas are bare below the elbows and this is supported by uniform, hand hygiene and infection prevention policies that specifically state that jewellery, wrist watches, nail varnish and false nails are prohibited apparel for clinical staff. Ward managers and matrons undertake regular checks with their nursing and midwifery staff to ensure that all related policies and guidelines are upheld and that clinical staff refrain from such practice, particularly in the interest of preventing healthcare-associated infection and to promote a professional appearance that promotes confidence with patients and their families.”
The hospitals were also asked if any nurses had been disciplined or warned in relation to their nails, but this question was ignored in the statement.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, which provides community nurses in East Lancashire, said it had ‘not had any formal disciplinary cases involving staff wearing false nails’.
Leila Grieves, associate director of workforce, added: “The trust’s dress code and uniform policy states that all clinical staff should ensure that fingernails be kept short and clean.
“In addition, clinical staff who undertake direct patient care activities must not wear false nails, nail art or nail polish due to the potential risk of infection.”
Sean Gibson, the Lancashire regional manager for the Unison union, said he was not aware of any cases where East Lancashire nurses had been warned or disciplined over their nails.
The survey was carried out by researchers at Cardiff University and London's City University.
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