Intended for healthcare professionals


Can I wear festive attire on the wards?

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 02 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6714
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

With Christmas approaching, Abi Rimmer asks doctors whether festive trimmings are a “ho, ho, ho” or a “no, no, no” on the wards

Wear something festive but removable

Sam Thenabadu (@4hrEmergencyDoc), consultant in adult and paediatric emergency medicine, says, “Working in the emergency department over the Christmas period is strange; despite the incessantly busy surroundings there is also a sense of festive fun. Being away from friends and family is, however, particularly noticeable and unwelcome. Those staff who have to work on Christmas Day might be offered a Christmas meal and token present, but it’s rare that either staff or patients really want to be there.

“Christmas jumpers and Santa hats are an embedded part of the modern day Christmas period and so by default enter into the hospital setting. For the majority of staff, donning a Christmas pudding or jingling elf jumper has now become accepted uniform. It brings festivity to work and in some small way tempers the feelings of missing out. Patients also seem to respond well to them and a stressful patient journey can often be more relaxed because of these touches.

“A straw poll of my emergency department colleagues confirmed my suspicions that both tasteful and gregarious jumpers were actively being sourced for this year’s Christmas period. When asked if there were any restrictions, all doctors and nurses commented, without prompting, that if a patient was very sick and more serious conversations were needed, slipping the jumper off and getting back into work wear would be the best option.

“With a range of Christmas jumpers in my cupboard, I will certainly don one for my Christmas Eve shift. God forbid any bad news needs breaking this Christmas but I’m sure that emergency department teams around the country will continue to be sensitive, caring, and compassionate to patients, relatives, and colleagues …

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