No ifs, ands or butts
Throughout the NHS, concerns have risen that the traditionally backless hospital gowns leave patients embarrassed and uncomfortable — that they have robbed patients of their dignity. (Although it’s hard to say how much dignity you have anyway when someone is sticking a fiber optic camera into your rectum during a colonoscopy).
Still, apart from a small number of specific medical procedures, there is no point in having a backless hospital gown, according to Prof David Oliver, past vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians. David Oliver is leading the charge for redesigning hospital gowns, known as #DownwiththeGown.
The fact that the movement is coming from medical professionals rather than patients is telling. It suggests that, while patients might be cool with exposing their rears within the confines of hospitals, doctors are sick of a work environment filled with geriatric bare butts.
Ten years ago, fashion designer Ben de Lisi was commissioned to create a new design. He opted for “a fleece to keep patients warm, a bag to keep a mobile phone in and the option of trousers.” His designs, were never implemented — maybe because they were more appropriate packing for a weekend away than sitting on a disinfected chair for 20 minutes. Or maybe because the NHS has a £4 billion deficit and isn’t in the business of manufacturing iPhone purses.
No word yet on any new designs that would make patients feel more “comfortable and dignified.” The bigger question here is: Regardless of backless gowns, does anyone really feel comfortable and dignified during doctors appointments? You have to answer personal questions and then get touched in weird places. It’s like a Tinder date gone bad.
Another problem is that the “Down with the Gown” campaign was poorly named; it inspired confusion with the internet wedding weight loss trend “Slimming Down for the Gown.” Not ideal for the NHS who have recently coming under criticism for fat-shaming obese patients.
At the end of the day, it’s clear that times are a changing in the field of hospital fashion — a field which hasn’t seen headlines since Katherine Heigl tried to design her own line of scrubs (even though she only played a doctor on TV).
Backless hospital gowns that show too much ass are likely to become increasingly unpopular (while backless red carpet gowns that show too much ass will likely do the opposite).