The government stated that by May 2008 there should be in excess of 5,000 modern matrons in the NHS – double the 2007 baseline.
The last NHS Workforce Census showed there were 2,153 modern matrons in post in September 2007.
According to the Department of Health, there are now 5,538 in post.
However the number of modern matrons differs greatly by strategic health authority.
While the North West currently employs 844 modern matrons, the North East has only 350. In London the number tops 900 while South Central employs just 318.
Although the RCN welcomed the increase, it head of policy Howard Catton warned that variation in numbers needed a better understanding.
‘It is a legitimate question to ask why there is such significant variation in the numbers,’ he said.
‘Just because the target has been met nationally the NHS must not now forget about modern matrons.
There is still work to be done,’ he added.
A DH spokesperson said each SHA had been set an individual realistic target from its own 2007 baseline, and that they had all exceeded the number of matrons they had been instructed to employ.
‘The targets [for each SHA] were set on what was achievable and taken from a baseline, each region has completely different needs,’ the spokesperson told NT.
‘Over the next few months, as more matrons come on stream, we can expect to see numberscontinue to increase across the board – decisions around the numbers to be recruited will be made locally,’ he said.