Clarification on the wearing of wrist watches

Tying surgical apron

The best infection prevention and control (IPC) practice is for all clinicians is to be ‘bare below the elbows’ during patient care – although the Department of Health’s uniform and work wear policy states that it may be necessary for ambulance clinicians to wear a wrist watch.

This is seen as an exception and not a rule however and there is a considerable amount of evidence available which demonstrates that the wearing of anything on a clinician’s wrist increases the bacterial count, and increases the risk of transmission to the patient.

The Trust position on wearing a watch is that ideally staff should be bare below the elbows and not wear one; however if staff feel that they must wear a watch to perform their role then they must follow Trust guidance. You cannot wear any other jewellery or bracelets of any sort on your wrists whilst on duty.

If you choose to wear a watch, please ensure it is:

  • made of a non-porous material which is easily cleaned e.g. plastic / rubber and not leather or fabric
  • must not be a large metal bracelet style or be ornate with intricate designs which are not easily cleaned
  • must be removed when performing hand hygiene
  • must be decontaminated after each patient care episode.

The Trust will be performing random swab / ATP testing of wrist watches to monitor and ensure that there is not an increased risk of infection to the patient.

The selection of watches below are not acceptable:

Inappropriate watches








These styles are acceptable:

Appropriate watches






The Trust will be monitoring compliance through uniform auditing, and staff who are wearing unacceptable wrist watches or any other wrist jewellery or bracelets/ bands will be asked to remove these whilst on duty.

Published 9th July 2015 


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