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If you’re due a minor medical procedure, get it done now. Good advice at any time perhaps, but especially relevant given that Te Whatu Ora is currently in consultation with the healthcare professionals of New Zealand, in an attempt to standardise employment contracts across Aotearoa. And if you know anything amount consultations with heavily unionised workforces, you can expect strikes. This isn’t a blog about industrial action however – no one cares nor needs to hear my Marxist diatribe. Instead it’s about a lesser section of the draft agreement put forward by Te Whatu Ora catchily titled “Uniform, Surgical Attire/Scrub Clothing and Professional Presentation”. As part of the agreement, Te Whatu Ora are trying to standardise medical clothing and attire across the country. Someone sent me the proposal documents, and here are some of the highlights:


  • Cover the sides and top of the foot
  • Have a non-slip sole
  • Be flat or have a small (2 cm) heel
  • External surface should be easy to clean.
  • Nursing must wear black coloured footwear

Fingernail hygiene

Fingernails must be short enough to allow thorough cleaning under them, enabling staff members to perform effective hand hygiene. This also ensures that staff members do not cause harm/trauma to a patient when assisting with their cares. It also prevents damage to gloves by nails tearing them. Staff members who have direct clinical contact with patients are not permitted to wear nail polish (enamel) or artificial fingernails/extenders. Note: Chipped nail polish and artificial fingernails encourage the proliferation of microorganisms between the nail polish and nail bed.


  • Employees who have direct contact with patients or clients, must have short, tidy nails. Shoulder length hair or longer must be tied up.
  • Jewellery must not be worn, with the exception of small stud earrings or a plain ring.

Now unless Eddie Izzard and Sam Smith now read my blogs, I’m going to guess that about 50% of you would have to take the above into account when getting ready in the morning. The other 50% would have to pay no attention to it. The difference being what’s between your legs.

Before you accuse me of being “woke”, I appreciate that within healthcare environments there are certain considerations relating to hygiene and safety. I’m not a total idiot. However, there are a couple of things. Firstly, it does imply that healthcare professionals put vanity over patient wellbeing. I’ve never witnessed this. If a Consultant’s manicured nails kept tearing gloves, they’d shorten them. If a hospital administrator couldn’t walk in heels above 2cm, they’d probably get some Sketchers. I think we could apply a bit of pragmatism here. Not all roles in Healthcare are the same, and if nice nails, a pair of heals, or visible Taonga add a bit of colour to a frankly miserable environment, without jeopardising anyone’s wellbeing, then just let it slide . Secondly, there seems to be no mention of an item of clothing that men often wear. An item that gets cleaned once a decade at best. An item that hangs down into open wounds. An item that is banned in industrial environments due to a safety risk. That filthy soup-catching, coffee stained noose known as the humble neck-tie is A-OK. As is our haircuts. And our shoes. And our jewellery choices.

Apparently, in the corporate environment, dress-codes are a thing of the past. I say “apparently” because they’re really not. Every week our candidates ask us what the dress code is and what should they wear to the interview. And we never say “wear what the f*ck you like“. No. We say, “business casual is fine. Better to dress up than dress down on a first interview!“. And for businesses that do have an actual dress-code, I guarantee you there are more rules in place for women. For us chaps, it’s “business or business casual”. Try and think of another one. Nope, that’s it. For women, it can be heel height, skirt length, stocking colour, jewellery (amount and type of), hair length, hair style, colour of denim, and make-up choice. Regardless of the gender of those who create these policy, they scream patriarchy. And for those without a dress-code, us fellas still get away with more. I met a CEO last week in crappy jeans, a cheap t-shirt, and pair of boots. The meeting went fine. I’m not sure a woman would have been able to rock the same hobo-chic.

Anyway, I should have been spouting this feminist stuff when I was a single man. You live and learn.

Have a superb weekend.