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LISTEN UP: Community matrons deserve more respect and support

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So the Department of Health has scrapped plans to recruit 3,000 community matrons after reaching only 1,470 in December 2006. Is this a downgrading of another NHS service? Is it because they have not met the target of reducing emergency bed days by 5%?

So the Department of Health has scrapped plans to recruit 3,000 community matrons after reaching only 1,470 in December 2006. Is this a downgrading of another NHS service? Is it because they have not met the target of reducing emergency bed days by 5%?

There has not been sufficient structural development in services or preparation and education for the role. Would you put an athlete into a race without any training and expect instant results? How can anyone expect instant results of community matrons?
Many have improved patients’ health outcomes – but we need research and quantitative data to support the subjective data. Case management services need statisticians and data analysts to inform service delivery and improvement. Yes, I know it will cost, but how else do you provide the evidence?

To respond to targets, PCTs and strategic health authorities have called for greater flexibility for recruiting case managers. But is this call for flexibility a way to pay them at a lower banding?

It is sometimes appropriate to recruit a physiotherapist or a social worker as a case manager for single long-term condition patients, but those with multiple and complex long-term conditions need the advanced skills of community matrons.

The upskilling of community and district nurses to meet some DH community matron competencies does not support the continuing role development of these staff.

The unique contribution advanced skills bring to complex patients appear to be overlooked and undervalued.

Wouldn’t you want your family and friends to be case managed by community matrons with advanced nursing skills? They deserve to be recognised and supported in advancing practice at the correct banding – not scrapped for cheaper options.

Gemma Smith, urgent care lead, project modernisation team, West Sussex PCT

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