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PFI contracts are a "barrier" to matrons

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Private cleaning contracts must be swept away so frontline nurses can take full control of improving the hospital environment, a leading matron has said.

The role of “modern matron” was introduced by the government in 2000 under the proviso that it would have strong powers to improve the ward environment, for example by withholding payments for cleaning contracts where sufficient standards were being not maintained.

But Sheila Kasaven, matron and clinical services manager at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, warned that these supposed powers were not a reality at the frontline.

“The matron role was introduced for a reason. And as a matron, I have seen many improvements in care but a large obstacle is PFI,” she said at a seminar in London on the future of the NHS, organised by the Westminster Health Forum.

“I have spent five long, hard years building relationships and a true partnership with my cleaning and repair contractors. But when push comes to shove, I can’t refuse to pay them for not delivering and I can’t demand they replace a light bulb the same day I report it,” she said.

“I can’t challenge a contract because of the way it was written up and the amount of management teams I have to go through to get a decision made,” she added. “I would welcome the removal of this whole infrastructure and the release of powers that were promised to us matrons.”

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