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Trust introduces 'ward matrons' to boost nurse leadership

A hospital trust has created a new “ward matron” post in a bid to improve care quality and boost the status of its ward managers.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust is expanding its matron workforce so there is one on each ward 24 hours a day, while giving them a more hands on clinical role than usual. The position will be appointed on Agenda for Change pay band 8a.

Ward matrons will be supported by two senior sisters or charge nurses at band 7, and an “operational head of nursing” in each division.

The trust’s chief nurse Rachel Overfield told Nursing Times that the change would improve patient safety by having senior nurses on wards all the time.

Previously matrons had been working across several wards, while ward managers were mostly on site during the day and only devoted a fraction of their time to managerial duties.

Ms Overfield said the position would put the trust’s best nurses back on wards, “not in an office down the corridor, managing nurses from a distance”.

She added that the change would give senior nurses a “status that patients and the public and the organisation understood”.

The trust will maintain its previous whole time equivalent level clinical nursing staff, while more than doubling ward leadership capacity.

The plans will cost the trust an extra £676,305 a year, but Ms Overfield said this would be recouped through reduced length of stay and lower rates of pressure sores, falls and infections associated with stronger nurse leadership.

She added: “We wanted to be able to pay our ward managers more – we had a view in this trust that band 7 is just rubbish really for the level of responsibility they take.”

Ms Overfield said the plan pre-empted the Francis report into care fails at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, which many expect will recommend ward management capacity is counted separately from clinical staffing numbers.

Sir Stephen Moss became chair of Mid Staffordshire in 2009 following the revelations of care failings at the trust.

He said the Sandwell model was “a good way of combining expert clinical nurses into a role that can have a wider influence”. It also made it clear to more junior nurses that “in order to progress, you don’t need to leave the bedside”, he said.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Thank god, just I need, another boss!

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  • "...which many expect will recommend ward management capacity is counted separately from clinical staffing numbers."

    still another pair of feet to trip over! wards will soon be overcrowded and bed side nurses will be stifled with management breathing down their necks or are they going to roll up their sleeves and work too.

    If they have managers on the wards doing all the managerial duties and stifling the workers how are other nurses going to gain experience and move up the managerial ladder?

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  • I think we should see this as a positive development, whilst those above have highlighted that this may increase the management on the ward area, what we see here is clearly a trust willing to invest in senior nurse leadership on the shop floor 24hrs a day. As highlighted this is NOT cheap, but is expected to have significant benefits.

    If they are managing and taking on patient care as part of the team i think that this is positive.

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  • Encouraging to see that they want to pay their ward managers more money, please don't worry about the band 5 and band 6 nurses who are the ones who do the actual clinical work, work unpaid overtime, forgoe their breaks and generally get all the grief.

    'put the trusts best nurses back in the wards' - thank you, nice to be appreciated. What makes these senior staff the 'best nurses'? What exactly will they be doing on the wards. Wiping bottoms, dressings, drug-rounds - doubt it.



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  • No they will notice what hasn't been done cos the nurse hasn't had time.

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  • I am due to qualify as a nurse from this trust in September, and find it sad that £650,000 can be spent on band 7's and 8's and yet £20,000 can not be spent on one newly qualified band 5 on under staffed wards! Yet this would be sure to bring down fall rates and pressure sores etc. . .

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  • when are they recruiting?

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  • They never will recruit, they won't have the money anyway! The trust needs to cut their budget to save something like 125 million in the next 5 years, they also paying out for a naughty surgeons mistake. Why waste money on these bands for them to sit down on their bums all day!

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  • meanwhile I have heard that the clinical nurse specialists in many areas of this trust are waiting to hear if their jobs are either safe, being downgraded or being got rid of....

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  • Anonymous | 18-May-2012 11:47 am

    scrolling quickly down the comments I misread

    what are they recruiting?


    In this day and age it is time we got rid of this ridiculous title of 'matron'. Just because it worked in the past does not mean it is a suitable notion for modern nursing.

    Furthermore, everybody is coming up with ideas, we can all do that and say what should be done and what others should be doing but how about the health authorities actually implementing some nationally acceptable measure and stop wasting time and money in temporary patch ups. We have a national problem with the NHS where national standards are required for all patients, not just local ones so that quality of care remains an inequitable post code lottery - otherwise tax contributions should also be adjusted accordingly!

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  • This sounds positive, more support for band 5 nurses. Will having matrons dilute the tension on wards and promote nurse morale as from my experience nurses get blamed for everything. General public know that nurses are supposed to be caring and use blame and projection to play on nurses conscience. Severe staff shortages will still remain a problem affecting patient care.

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  • Tiger Girl

    The trust’s chief nurse Rachel Overfield told Nursing Times that the change would improve patient safety by having senior nurses on wards all the time.

    She added: “We wanted to be able to pay our ward managers more – we had a view in this trust that band 7 is just rubbish really for the level of responsibility they take.”

    Whether or not this will improve things, I very much approve of straight-forward language: '... is just rubbish really'. That can be expressed in half-a-page of management waffle, or in a few words, and I like the few words approach !

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  • I think this is a positive move forward it is putting experienced nurses in the ward area to coach and nurture less experienced nurses to achieve a high standard of care surely this is a good thing for patients ! I work at this trust and think it is a good model. Following the mid staffs inquiry I think putting more nurses in patient areas is an excellent move, we want to improve the experience for the patient and avoid avoidable deaths at all costs.

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  • are they sort of ward police?

    why is each hospital introducing its own model. surely this is another wasteful way of doing things.

    as every taxpaying citizen should be treated to the same services and conditions in the NHS surely the aim should be to standardise services so that the quality and range of services to those that have a clinical need for them is offered at the same level right across the country.

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