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Radical clinical matron drive could be model for other hospitals

Pioneering NHS trust has put senior nurse leaders on every ward in the organisation

A radical drive to recruit senior nurse leaders has seen around 30 band 8 clinical matrons appointed at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT).

Clinical Matron Claire Eastick on a training day. Picture credit: Nathan Clarke

The matrons, who will cover every ward in the trust’s hospitals, will spend 80% of their time providing hands-on care and demonstrating advanced clinical practice to their teams, as well as working in partnership with consultant doctors.

Chief nurse Donna Green said: ‘We are a very clinically-run organisation and can see huge benefits in having nurses engaged at a very high level. I genuinely believe by valuing clinical expertise, and having senior people at ward level, the quality of care will improve demonstrably.’

Band 7 ward sisters will see their roles refocused, with an emphasis on developing the team’s education and training, while clerical staff will provide administrative support.

Ms Green believes the changes will have a positive impact on recruitment and retention.

‘It is a personal view but, across the NHS, I feel the ward sister and matron role has lost its way a bit – they have become more and more involved in admin details and clinical skills have been lost.’

HHFT newly-appointed clinical matron Alison McGinnes was clinical service lead in long-term conditions at the trust, but will now be placed on a 26-bed older care ward in her new role.

Where she spent 80% of her time on admin and 20% on clinical duties, this ratio has flipped and Ms McGinnes will now spend most of her time working clinically.

‘Having a clinical matron on every ward area can only bring positive outcomes,’ said Ms McGinnes.

‘We are saying to our staff and patients that matrons are strong clinical leaders, given the power to make things better for patients and families. We are also showing you can progress to the pinnacle of your career and still remain clinical, which is an opportunity not always available to nurses.’

Ms McGinnes said she was apprehensive but excited about what the next six months had in store.

‘There are going to be a lot of good things, but lots of challenges along the way because we are doing something pioneering.’

The recruitment has been funded from existing staffing budgets, but the trust is keen to invest in training to support the matrons’ clinical and leadership skills development.

Ms Green said: ‘It is not just about one role, it is a fundamental change to the way the organisation works.'

The matrons, who hail from clinical and managerial backgrounds in acute and community settings, started a month-long induction process last Monday to refresh clinical skills, work with consultants and prepare themselves for the new roles.

The success of the appointments will be measured through qualitative feedback and staff turnover, among other things.

‘If it works, this is potentially a model for other organisations,’ added Ms Green.

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