Matron returns to the wards

By Richard SmithMATRON is back - in a revamped role overseeing two hospitals in Felixstowe.Matrons virtually disappeared from NHS hospitals after the publication of a national report in 1974 that triggered changes in the structure of the nursing profession.

By Richard Smith

MATRON is back - in a revamped role overseeing two hospitals in Felixstowe.

Matrons virtually disappeared from NHS hospitals after the publication of a national report in 1974 that triggered changes in the structure of the nursing profession.

Two years earlier Hattie Jacques had starred in one of the best-loved of all Carry On films, Carry On Matron, in which Sid James led a team of professional crooks intent on stealing a large hoard of birth control pills.


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The Government has reintroduced matrons in response to a huge demand from the public who wanted to see the maternal figure back on the wards.

The title of matron is still commonly used in nursing homes and now Modern Matrons have been appointed in hospitals.

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Susan Bruce, an experienced nurse from Colchester, is a Modern Matron introduced by Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust at Felixstowe Hospital and the town's Bartlet Hospital.

Having the right bedside manner for patients is just one of a wide-ranging qualities Mrs Bruce needs for the challenging role.

She has clinical and managerial responsibility for every aspect of the hospitals. Repairs, cleanliness, hospital food and patient care all come under her jurisdiction - and she has to show a sense of humour to put up with Hattie Jacques jokes.

Mary Glanfield, a patient at the Bartlet Hospital, said: “It is excellent and I love the idea of having a matron - I think it gives the place a lift.”

Mrs Bruce said: “Our patients certainly seem pleased that matron is back. Modern Matrons have the authority, influence and resources to ensure that the highest possible standards are achieved.

“It's important for me to be highly visible and easily identifiable so I can help patients with any problems they have because they often feel reluctant to ask the nurses as they are so busy.”

Mrs Bruce wears a traditional blue uniform without a hat or apron and spends as much time as possible on the wards listening to and caring for the patients.

She has 20 years' experience in the profession - her last job was a district nursing sister in Ipswich - and oversees about 80 members of staff at the two hospitals in Felixstowe.

Ana Selby, the primary care trust's chief executive, said: “Mrs Bruce in her role as Modern Matron will be a welcome addition to our team at Felixstowe, able to provide both strong nursing leadership and act as an advocate for patients and the quality of service they expect.”

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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