Students criticised over ‘scrub crawl’

Members of Medchir student society criticised for wearing NHS scrubs on night out

Rosannah Jones

While sub crawls have become popular and familiar events in the calendars of many of Glasgow University’s societies, Glasgow University medics have recently come under fire for wearing NHS scrubs on their nights out around the underground.

MedChir, the University’s society for medics, was responsible for organising the ‘scrub crawl’ on March 7, which encourages students to drink and play games at each subway stop they reach. The event itself is a favourite with medics and has previously been advertised in Freshers’ Guides as “the ubiquitous pub crawl with a twist.”

The society claims that: “MedChir does not and has never endorsed the wearing of NHS scrubs or materials. You are responsible for your own actions and we seriously discourage the theft of NHS property.”

However, this statement did little to stop some of the 330 students signed up to participate in the sub crawl from using their NHS placement scrubs as a uniform for the night. The controversy around wearing scrubs in this environment stems from the fear that any member of the public with a medical emergency could think that students are able to provide them with medical attention. Other reasons include hygiene and the argument that the behaviour on these nights, although simply typical student antics, could harm the reputation of the NHS.

One student who attended the scrub crawl defended the wearing of scrubs on these nights:“I had heard there were complaints last year for students wearing scrubs on a night that wasn’t the scrub crawl. I wasn’t aware that there were any complaints this year. As far as I know, the scrub crawl has been in existence for a long time as a ‘tradition.’ I don’t think anyone means any harm by wearing scrubs.”

Asked whether the stealing of NHS property was an issue, the student replied: “I don’t know about taking scrubs from the NHS – a lot of folk I know bought stuff online.”

The student also pointed out that there are no disputes when people dress up as doctors and nurses for Halloween, that but medics are the only ones who get the blame for doing so.

The University also made it clear that it did not condone the wearing of official NHS scrubs on these nights. A spokesperson said: “We discourage all medical students from wearing ‘scrubs’ outside of a healthcare setting. These uniforms, whether provided by the NHS – and therefore their property – or self-purchased are for use in a healthcare setting.

“Wearing uniforms like these outside such a setting – particularly in bars and clubs – presents a very poor image both of the individual wearing it and the organisations they represent.”