New matrons told to raise care levels by Betsi Cadwaladr health board

Matron Manon Williams and patients in Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor
Image caption Manon Williams is now matron for Alaw ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

The health board covering north Wales is bringing back matrons to its hospital wards.

They will be put in charge of cleanliness and improving patient care and welfare.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) has been recruiting staff to take up the new roles in recent months.

It says it hopes to have more than 35 at both general and community hospitals. The original role largely disappeared after the 1960s.

But Jill Galvani, the board's director of nursing, midwifery and patient services said: "We have listened to patients and the public who have asked for the return of the matrons.

"We are therefore delighted to announce the return of the matrons who will support ward sisters and their teams in delivering and ensuring that patients and families experience healthcare of a consistently high standard."

The health board said it had already put several ward matrons in place at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd at Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire, at Wrexham Maelor, and in Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor.

'Defined roles'

The matron role is also being put in place at community hospitals across the region.

BCUHB said the new matrons were being asked to look at specific areas in their hospital wards, including:

  • Ensuring the ward environment is clean, and that nutritional and hydration needs are met
  • Helping prevent hospital-acquired infections and pressure ulcers
  • Continuing to improve the ward environment for patients and their families

"Their role is clearly defined and they will be free to act and lead the clinical teams at ward and department level and throughout the community to drive up standards of care," added Mrs Galvani.

The original role of a matron disappeared in the NHS following a shake-up of health care in the 1960s.

But modern matrons started to return to English wards a decade ago, and made a brief return to Powys hospitals before the title disappeared again under healthcare reorganisation.

Distinctive uniforms

The Betsi Cadwaladr board said it wanted the new matrons to be "visible, accessible and authoritative" on the wards, and someone patients and their families can turn to for advice.

As part of the new role, the matrons are being kitted out with a distinctive navy blue uniform, with red piping.

Among the matrons are many former clinical nursing managers like Manon Williams, who is on the Alaw ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

"There is more focus on the patient - which is right," she said.

"We still have managerial responsibilities, but I think there are other things now that are coming foremost, like infection control issues and making sure that the ward area is clean and tidy, making sure that simple things like nutrition and fluids for the patients are being maintained.

"The one big thing, I think, is we can make sure in our role that dignity and respect is maintained for the patient. To me, that is more important than anything."

The return to a matron system on the wards is also being welcomed by the patients.

"I think it's a great idea," stated patient Veronica Tocker.

"The matron has always been the base of the ward. She has always been somebody you look for.

"So now she is back again. She is always going to be there for us, for the staff, for the patients and for the relatives of everyone."

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