HOSPITAL staff will have to wash their soiled scrubs at home as part of plans to upgrade the quality of their uniforms.

Staff at Salisbury District Hospital will be given better quality scrubs but as they are more expensive, nurses, midwives and ward staff will need to launder them, saving the cost of cleaning them in the hospital’s own laundry.

The new scrubs will come in three different colours, according to the role and seniority of staff, and they are expected to be in place later this year. Staff have raised concerns about the spread of infection, and staff unions have this week voiced their worries over the impact on staff.

Mark Wareham, speaking on behalf of the joint Staff Side unions, said they are concerned about the “extra burden upon staff” who will face the costs of cleaning their uniforms.

“Whilst we accept that many employees wanted to take on these duties, and feel able to cope with the additional burden,” he said. “We are concerned for the impact on the low paid, mainly female worker who will be most detrimentally affected by this change,” he said.

“There is little good news in this proposal for them other than a possibility of some tax relief, and the hospital may be able to assist them with purchasing new washing machines.”

He added: “This comes at a time when NHS staff are facing year on year real cuts in their standard of living as a result of government austerity measures and with the trust continuing to pose the threat of imposing even worse pay and conditions on staff through their membership of the south west pay cartel.”

Fiona Hyett, deputy director of nursing, said the decision is based on feedback from patients and staff, who expressed a preference for better quality scrubs.

She said: “Before the implementation of scrub suits in 2006, uniforms would have been cleaned at home and this remains the case in the vast majority of other hospitals across the country without creating a risk of spreading infection and compromising infection control procedures.”

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust will now carry out a formal tendering exercise to choose a company and uniforms, with staff being fully involved in the process.