Nurses are being told cover up this summer if they intend to wear their uniform outside hospital grounds.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust chief nurse Sherree Fagge said staff should wear a coat if they did not want to change out of their work clothes.

In a message to staff she said: “As the weather improves and summer slowly creeps up upon us, I would like to remind staff that uniforms should not be worn outside of work, including when travelling to and from work.

“If uniforms are worn outside of work then they need to be fully covered by a coat.

“This is to maintain and uphold professional standards as well as for safety and security reasons.

“Although there is no evidence that wearing a uniform outside of work is an infection risk it looks unprofessional and patients and the public perceive that it is a risk, so please take it off or cover it up.”

The trust runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton, and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath among others.

It used to have one of the highestMRSA infection rates in the country, but reported just six cases last year.