Lazing around in pyjamas when ill may feel like the best medicine – but nurses at a top teaching hospital are now instructing patients to get out of bed Picture: File

Lazing around in pyjamas when ill may feel like the best medicine – but nurses at a top teaching hospital are now instructing patients to get out of bed and get dressed in a bid to help them recover faster.

New rules at Whittington Hospital in north London tell patients not to wear pyjamas and dressing gowns during the day, after research suggested those who get up and walk about feel better faster – and go home sooner – than those who spend all day in bed.

Chief nurse Michelle Johnson said: ‘It isn’t normal to spend all day in pyjamas at home, so why should they do this in hospital?

‘Getting dressed makes it more likely our patients will move around, meaning they will regain strength and can go home sooner.’

The Whittington is in step with a major NHS campaign to end so-called ‘pyjama paralysis’, which was reported in the Mail’s Good Health pages last month.

Chief nursing officer Professor Jane Cummings believes wearing pyjamas or nighties all day in hospital reinforces the feeling of being ill and frail, and makes patients want to stay in bed longer.

Patients at Whittington are now being asked to get dressed in a new outfit each day and walk about as soon as they are well enough. They are also being encouraged to put on make-up, shave and do their hair, with the help of relatives if needed.

The NHS’s pyjama paralysis campaign is partly aimed at reducing bed-blocking, where patients stay in hospital unnecessarily despite being medically fit. Experts also believe that patients recover less quickly in hospitals and are at risk of becoming ill again through infections.

Recent figures show that for every ten days a patient over 80 spends in hospital, their muscles waste by an average ten years.

Announcing the campaign in February, Professor Cummings said: ‘Wearing pyjamas for many patients reinforces the “sick role” and can prevent a speedier recovery.

‘Obviously the patient and their condition need to be taken into consideration, and this idea cannot apply to every inpatient, however for many it’s a matter of enabling them to get up, get dressed and get moving.’

The Royal College of Nursing encouraged nurses to support the drive. Dawne Garrett, its lead for the care of older people, said: ‘We all know from our own experience that staying in bed in pyjamas can make us feel weak and vulnerable, when often we’re on the mend and could be up and about.

‘Many patients will need help from nursing staff to get dressed, but?…?this can be used as an opportunity for assessment of their condition. Ensuring patients do not spend any longer than is necessary in hospital helps both patients and staff.’

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