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NHS staff 'must not expose midriff'

A hospital trust has warned staff against wearing clothes that expose their "midriff" or "excessive cleavage".

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has issued a new uniform policy for all staff, with guidance on shoes, clothing, hair length and colour.

Any member of staff who does not adhere to the policy could be subject to disciplinary action.

The policy states: "The trust expects staff to project a positive and professional image at all times, and whilst the right to freedom of expression is respected, staff wearing their own clothing must dress smartly, professionally and appropriately.

"Staff will not dress in ways that undermine the spirit of this policy, and clothing that exposes the midriff, torso or excessive cleavage. Denim, shorts, leggings and mini skirts are not acceptable attire."

The document states that hair must be clean and neat and, if dyed, "should be of a natural colour which portrays a subtle, professional image". All staff in uniform and working in clinical areas must wear their hair "off the collar and tied away from the face".

Hannah Middleton, Unison branch secretary for the trust, said the policy was agreed by trade unions and staff councils following complaints from patients.

She said: "We needed a policy that covered all staff whether they were in the clinical side or non-uniform staff.

"There had been complaints from patients about members of staff baring their midriff, and problems with health and safety as some had been wearing sandals. There has always been a policy but it has now been toughened up."

The trust has also warned staff it will carry out "audits" of the uniform policy in every ward, department and service area.

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