Bye bye bare butts! Traditional hospital gowns, with gaps that frequently expose backsides, are being replaced for patients of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) thanks to a deliberate effort to bring patients more dignity and modesty.
The shapeless sacks and flimsy ties that popped open at awkward times will go away in 2011. The new striped cotton garment keeps the patient's body covered and has snap fasteners on the side to allow instant access by medical staff. The new design replaces all NHS nightwear and comes with a fleece blanket to keep patients warm, a bag to store a mobile phone and matching pants.
The gown is shaped like a large, long T-shirt. Rather than being tied at the back, like the old one, it's fastened at both sides using plastic snaps to allow fast access for medical procedures. Extra panels can be added at the sides to accommodate larger bodies. The one-size-fits-all gown is reversible, with a choice of v-neck or round-neck. It’s easy to put on and covers the patient’s front and back, while its stud fastenings enable equipment such as IV lines to be attached without exposing the skin.
The reinvented gown is the result of a competition commissioned by the Department of Health. The primary goal was to improve patient dignity and privacy.
The creator, American-born fashion designer Ben de Lisi, normally designs gowns that cost thousands of dollars and are worn by stars walking red carpets. Clients have included Kate Winslet and Helena Bonham Carter. "If you look good, you'll feel good. Patients in hospitals are at their very lowest ebb, and you want them confident and buoyant so they can ask doctors the questions they need to ask," De Lisi says.
Health Minister Ann Keen said her experience as a nurse has shown her that patients expect and deserve a "dignified" experience when they go to a hospital, along with high quality care. She said, "I have spent years being embarrassed by asking people to wear revealing patient gowns and I know that patients will feel far more confident with the new design."
Britain’s government has pledged to get the designs in hospitals next year.