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Health Insight May 2001:
Matron gets a mixed reception

  The Royal College of Nursing has welcomed the government’s plan to ‘bring back matron’, which Alan Milburn has said reflects his aim to give more power to front-line staff. By 2004, every hospital will have ‘modern matrons’, each of them in charge of five or six wards. They will act as a ‘voice upwards’ to directors of nursing. They will influence hospital cleaning and catering budgets, and work with patient advocacy and liaison services. Their salary will be in the range of £26,000 to £31,000.

The RCN has, however, expressed some cautions; it does not want the new scheme to be implemented in such a way that ‘matron responsibilities’ are placed on one individual in isolation.

The NHS Confederation sees the new move as a welcome recognition that there is, at present, a deficit of middle managers in the NHS, though it is concerned that the modern matrons might disempower ward sisters and charge nurses.

Others have been more critical and have dismissed ‘modern matrons’ as an election gimmick. For example, Alan Maynard, Professor of Health Economics at York University described modern matrons as ‘an evidence-free political wheeze’. Ray Bowden, Honorary Visiting Professor of Nursing at York, described the title as ‘demeaning and sexist’. He added, ‘I find it strange that they’re harking back to a false concept as a solution to the problems of the present.’

Source: Health Service Journal 12 April, Press release (DoH)


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