It emerged on Friday that London nurse Jessica Anderson had been told she could not achieve a world record as her work uniform of scrubs did not match the criteria laid down by Guinness World Records.
Ms Anderson ran the London Marathon this year wearing her nurses’ uniform, aiming to beat the current record of 3:08:54, reported Runner’s World. She subsequently ran the marathon in 3:08:22.
She was told in February that she had missed the deadline for entering the event for running fancy dress but was also informed that her record would not have been recognised in any event, as the current rules dictate that people running in costume as nurses must wear a dress.
“I was quite taken aback when I read that they’d rejected my application and I did email them to ask them to reconsider but they said no,” she said. “I get that it’s supposed to be a fun thing but their definition is just so outdated.
“Some of the nurses I work with do wear dresses but mostly we wear scrubs or a tunic and trousers. I’ve certainly never seen a male nurse wearing a dress to work,” she said.
“I’m sure Guinness World Records don’t intend to cause offence but it would be nice if they decided to revise their criteria instead of reinforcing old gender stereotypes,” Ms Anderson told Runner’s World.
She was running in aid of the Barts Charity to raise money for the staff and unit at the acute admissions unit at the Royal London Hospital, where she has worked for nearly seven years.
Ms Anderson’s story prompted an outcry on social media site Twitter on Saturday, with the chief nursing officers of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland among those condemning the rules and posting pictures of themselves wearing scubs.
CNO for Northern Ireland Charlotte McArdle said: “What a ridiculous rule. This nurse has shown great leadership, courage and inspired many that we need to look after our health, come on guys and common sense around!”
CNO for England Ruth May described the situation as “outragious”, while deputy CNO Mark Radford said the criteria was “wrong and needs reforming”, stating that it was “perpetuating outdated stereotypes of nursing”.
In response to a request from Nursing Times for comment on the issue and whether it would consider changing its position, Guinness World Records said in a statement that it would review as a priority its rules surrounding record attempts in nurse uniform.
A spokeswoman said: “Inclusiveness and respect are values that Guinness World Records holds extremely dear and while we always need to ensure we can differentiate between categories, it is quite clear that this record title is long over due a review which we will conduct as a priority in the coming days.”