Bring back Matron? - No Thanks!

Every time the health service is mentioned in a political meeting or on an audience participation election special on TV or radio, you can guarantee that somebody will say that the answer to the problem is to bring back matron. We heard it on the BBC hustings programme on Sunday night, we heard it in the Save Llandudno Hospital protest on Saturday and we will hear the same cry another hundred times before this election campaign is over

In the good old days Matron was a nurse; a person who had been trained to care for patients; usually a nurse with many years of experience in patient care. It was a criminal waste of that nurses' training and experience to take her out of the caring environment and to make her a hospital administrator, a job for which she had no training and little experience. The best person to be a hospital administrator is an individual who has been specifically trained in health service administration, not a nurse.

I worked as a Registered Nurse in the National Health Service for many years. When I started nursing there were plenty of administrative tasks that needed doing. At that time Sisters and Charge Nurses did much of this work. A Sister could spend up to 90% of her work time on administration and just 10% of her time on doing what she was best at - nursing. This was not only wasteful, but also dangerous. When sister was up to her neck with paperwork the actual nursing was being done without her direct supervision by carers who were often less qualified and always less experienced than her.

When ward clerks became a common feature of the NHS in the mid 1980's I welcomed their appointment. Their appointment meant that I could spend more time nursing patients and less time nursing papers.

There may well be too many administrative and clerical staff in the NHS and getting rid of them might be a populist cause, but you can't get rid of the administrators before you have reduced the amount of administrative work that is expected in the health service.

I don't want to see us turning back the clock to the time that nurses were so bogged down in administration that they didn't have the time to nurse. I certainly don't want to go back to the good old days when the brightest and the best of nurses were plucked out of nursing to become administrative Matrons, thus depriving the sick and needy of their skills, experience and expertise as highly professional health workers.

Bring back Matron? - No Thanks!


  1. I agree and dissagree. I agree we dont want admin. What we do want is matron to have a band of sisters who keep standards high in care and disipline. Not papaerwork. When the lady I care for was in hospital it was clear no one was realy in charge of the ward with the authourity to get it sorted! Bring back matroon sisters and nurses who knew why they were there not disorinatated demoralised ill focased people who have no structure to work in. Best regards

  2. i thought it was the other way around.my mother is still nursing having been a nurse for 40 years and she cannot wait to retire,having agreed with everyone else that the once high standards held in the days of matron have gone down the toilet.the days when your uniform was pristine and your nails were inspected were the days when nobody had heard of mrsa and the wards were spotless.there was also enough staff to ensure that serious mistakes were avoided-unfortunately not so as i remember the case of milton keynes hospital where two babies died and just today,a mother and her unborn baby dying due to her ruptured womb,a result of her being neglected during labour.