Reply to “Hospital dressing down”

The Daily Nation published an edited version of the following letter to the editor on April 11, 2017.

The Nation recently reported that staff of the Outpatients Clinic of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), who were “not satisfied” with visitors’ clothing, posted a dress code without management’s prior approval. The new code would have banned, among other things, tank tops, spaghetti straps, sagging or frayed pants, and sleeveless clothing. Hospital management has since removed the handwritten sign, but apparently plans to introduce an official dress code.

There are good reasons, mostly related to health and safety, for the government to sometimes require people to dress in certain ways. But Barbadians pay for public services, and as a rule, should be able to access them dressed however they like, within the confines of public decency laws. The government should be trying to make it easier for people to use these services, not turning them away because they’re wearing the wrong type of blouse.

This is especially true of public health services. Maybe the people who show up at the Outpatients Clinic in tank tops have more pressing concerns than not offending the delicate sensibilities of hospital employees.

It seems the QEH’s staff and management need reminding that it is they who ought to be at the public’s disposal, not the other way around.

Mark Boyce

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