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.