Nurse’s Uniform Colours And What They Mean

Nurse’s Uniform Colours And What They Mean

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Have you ever wondered what the NHS nurse uniform colour codes mean? This in-depth and easy-to-follow guide explains the different colours of nurse uniforms. It explains what each nursing section is, how to access it, and how to access the HE course.

One of the first things most people think about when entering the nursing line of work is what they will wear as a Nurse. After all, each role in the healthcare sector corresponds with the meaning of specific nurse uniform colours in the UK. Familiarising with the respective NHS uniform colour coding is essential for those interested in breaking into the profession.

Understanding the various nurse uniform NHS uniform colours

Below, we explain which NHS nurse uniform to wear depending on the role you want to fulfil. If you’re thinking about entering this industry, then it pays to understand the meaning of NHS uniform colours. 

In addition, we have highlighted the specific roles within the healthcare hierarchy that you might be interested in pursuing. 

Now, here are the nurse uniform colour codes.


A Matron is tasked with running a group of wards or departments within hospitals and clinics. They oversee all the Nurses, ensuring patients receive the highest care possible. 

As part of their job responsibilities, they must also ensure that the faculty members always follow cleanliness and hygiene protocols and adhere to the various infection control measures. 

NHS scrubs colours: Navy w/red trim

Senior Sister

Senior Sisters play a governing role in ensuring that each staff member communicates with patients at all times and that all the respective healthcare services within their domain are delivered to the highest nursing standards. 

They are also responsible for leading teams and overseeing several day-to-day functions within individual units and wards. 

NHS scrubs colours: Navy w/white piping


A Sister ensures safe practice and an overall positive experience for the patients under her care. In addition, she must demonstrate strong leadership and management skills while providing the necessary support to the ward’s nursing & midwifery team. 

NHS scrubs colours: Navy w/white piping


NHS uniform colour codes

Registered Nurses comprise the bulk of professionals working in the nursing and healthcare industry, and understandably so, as they have a broad range of responsibilities to meet on any given day. 

Their general role, however, involves providing direct care and treatment to patients and actively monitoring their health while adhering to the remedial or treatment plan set out by the Doctor in charge. 

A registered Nurse must possess various professional and personable skills to aid and support patients throughout their recuperative journey. 

NHS scrubs colours: Light blue with white piping

Specialist Nurse

Specialist Nurses must provide the appropriate care to patients with a specific long-term health condition, including dementia and cancer. 

They are specialists in the nursing field, providing the highest level of care according to each patient’s unique long-term health condition. 

NHS scrubs colours: Light blue w/navy piping

Assistant Practitioner 

Healthcare professionals often can’t provide optimum patient care independently and, thus, require support from specialist staff. One of these is an Assistant Practitioner with a range of skills and experience within different areas of clinical practice.

They provide ongoing support to different kinds of healthcare professionals, including Nurses. 

NHS scrubs colours: Pale blue w/white trim

Healthcare Assistant 

A Healthcare Assistant’s main priority is to make the patient experience as smooth and easygoing as possible. The role involves many responsibilities – from monitoring patients’ health conditions and symptoms to serving meals and helping them get dressed. 

NHS scrubs colours: Green w/white trim

Ward Clerk

A Ward Clerk carries out administrative duties related to patients and visitors, where they may need to perform them across multiple healthcare clinics and hospital departments. 

With diverse responsibilities, Ward Clerks may be expected to update and maintain confidential patient data and ensure that healthcare professionals have access to the desired medical records at any time. 

NHS scrubs colours: Patterned blouse


Housekeepers play a critical role in a healthcare environment, ensuring that hospitals and clinics run smoothly. While their day-to-day duties include cleaning, supplies, catering, and equipment, they interact with patients regularly, reassuring and inspiring them whenever needed. 

NHS scrubs colours: Burgundy shirt

Nursing Associate

NHS nurses uniforms

A Nursing Associate’s key responsibility revolves around a clinical support role to bridge the gap between registered nurses and healthcare support workers. They work with both groups of people to deliver high-quality care to patients and the general public. Their involvement is vital as they provide person-centred, hands-on care as part of dedicated nursing teams.  

Their role applies to multiple health and social care settings, where they work with people of all ages and backgrounds. 

NHS scrubs colours: Sky blue w/sky blue trim


A Pharmacist’s key job responsibility is to prescribe over-the-counter and specialised/prescription medicine. They advise on which prescription drugs to take, and their daily interactions include those with patients, GPs, Nurses, and the general public. 

NHS scrubs colours: Own/personal clothing, or preferably a polo shirt with an embroidered NHS Trust logo

Pharmacy Technician 

A Pharmacy Technician is essential in a lab and pharmacy where the designated individual provides over-the-counter and prescription medicine to patients. In addition, he also advises them on treatments through specific medications and addresses general health queries.

NHS scrubs colours: Typically, black polo shirts 


A Physiotherapist’s primary focus is to help patients regain muscular function and range of motion after an illness, injury, surgery, or disability. Part of their role involves assisting patients to reduce their subsequent risk of injury in the future. 

NHS scrubs colours: White uniform w/navy piping

Pharmacy Support

Pharmacy Support professionals work under the direct supervision of Pharmacists, dispensing and supplying medicines while also delivering critical pharmacy services and providing information to whoever requires it. 

NHS scrubs colours: Green polo shirt

Occupational Therapist

An Occupational Therapist’s chief role is to aid patients in living their daily lives as quickly and independently as possible. Part of their responsibility includes assessing and treating the patients they come into contact with. 

NHS scrubs colours: White uniform w/green detail


Phlebotomists take blood samples from patients and send them for testing & analysis. Additionally, they must maintain records and ensure that the relevant data is digitally entered promptly and accurately. 

NHS scrubs colours: White w/burgundy piping

Difference Between NHS nurse uniform colour codes

With these NHS nurse uniform colour codes in mind, you can start planning your career move within the NHS or the healthcare industry. Nursing is a critical component of the NHS, and different people have different aspirations and motivations to become a Nurse or any other type of healthcare professional, such as the ones described above. 

If you’ve decided to pursue this path, HE Diplomas for Nursing and Midwifery are an excellent place to start. You may also want to check out the various health and social care courses available to open up the myriad of professional opportunities available within and outside the NHS. 

In the meantime, if you’re interested in exploring other fields of Nursing, such as how to become a mental health nurse or a nursery nurse, these resources should be helpful! 


Can you explain the meanings of the various NHS uniform colours?

The meanings of the various nurse uniform colours in the UK differ according to the role and organisation. For instance, blue and white are traditionally associated with Nurses, while other colours described above are related to various healthcare roles. 

What is the dress code for nurse uniform colours?

Nurses in the UK primarily wear blue and often navy uniforms. However, the exact NHS nurse uniform colour codes vary according to the healthcare facility, clinic, or hospital. 

Do nurses’ scrubs have different colours in the UK?

They do, yes. However, blue or navy tends to be the most common choice for nurses’ scrubs, although they may use various colours depending on each hospital’s or healthcare organisation’s specific policies.

Are the NHS nurse uniform colours the same in all parts of the UK?

No. In NHS Scotland, for example, the senior nurse in charge will wear navy blue, while clinical support staff might wear pale sky blue.
In Wales, the head of nursing will wear navy blue with red trim instead of the usual burgundy, while housekeeping, for example, will wear maroon (compared to dark green for NHS Scotland).

Generally speaking, the NHS uniform colour coding may work differently in different parts of the UK, but not drastically different from the one described in this article. 


RCN Magazine. (2023) NHS 75: the history of our National Health Service. [online] Available at: [accessed 02/01/24]

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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