Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Gown and out: 'Bottom-flashing' hospital robes to be replaced by more modest attire
They have been a cause of much complaint for many years from NHS patients. But now dignity is to be returned to those at their most vulnerable in hospital.
For the age of the ill-fitting green gown that exposes your legs and bottom could soon be over, replaced by a wraparound gown with ties at the side.
The move has been made by Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust after an elderly patient complained about her husband having to wear the garment as he walked down the hospital corridor.
The woman, who did not reveal her name, wrote: 'I found it particularly heartbreaking last year to walk along the hospital corridor with my terminally ill husband, with much of his upper legs exposed from behind.
'With the current campaign for dignity and privacy in hospitals I feel it is a matter that should be seriously addressed.
'I'm sure it would make a huge difference to the morale of patients who are unable to wear their own clothes to at least be adequately covered.'
The hospital immediately replied to the woman's concerns, with an unnamed executive saying on the website: 'Thank you for posting your feedback, which has been passed on to the associate director of nursing.
'We have recently begun looking into using a different type of gown that provides a better level of modesty.'
Patient Clive Whitemoor, 37, said he was sick of the 'bottom-flashing' gowns after ten visits to the Southampton hospital in the past year for treatment for a bad back.
Mr Whitemoor said: 'Every time you go, you end up getting put in one of these gowns which totally expose your bum. It's degrading and you feel like a fool.'
A British firm making the new 'dignity gowns', which cost only £2, said NHS hospitals in Gateshead and Derby were using them, with more said to be following suit.
Synerception, based in Winchester, also produces special gowns for the obese and for Muslim women.
Synerception sales manager William Yonge said: 'There's a change in mood along with the push for dignity and privacy in hospital.
'People have never liked the bottom-flashers, but when people are in hospital waiting for an operation, they don't want to complain to the doctors about to stick needles in them.
'Yet the way hospitals work has changed. In the old days people were told to put on a gown, lie down, and wait until told to move. While they were lying down their bottoms were covered.
'Nowadays patients walk around more, and are actually encouraged to get up and walk after surgery. Treatment has changed, but the gowns haven't.
'But there is increasing interest in gowns this year. We even did a fashion show for our gowns at Reading's Royal Berkshire hospital last month, with staff as models - and those wearing the bottom-flashers were quite embarrassed.'
A co-director of pressure group Patient Concern, Roger Goss, welcomed the new developments.
Mr Goss said: 'We have been lobbying for the gowns to be changed for several years, and at last hospitals are listening.
'It's outrageous that people are expected to walk around wards with their backsides hanging out. It makes you feel utterly vulnerable. The bottom-flashing gowns are designed purely for the convenience of doctors and nurses, are probably a bit cheaper, and show no respect for the patient.'
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'Decisions about the purchasing of hospital gowns are made locally, but there's scope within the national contract to select from a variety of styles.'