Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Old-style matrons returning to Northern Ireland hospital

The is returning to Northern Ireland hospitals with an aim of improving patient care.

A new title and province-wide job description has been created in a move which has been welcomed by leading nursing union the Royal College of Nursing.

Matrons were immortalised as all-powerful on the wards by actresses such as Hattie Jacques in the Carry On films.

Now to be known as ward sisters (female) or charge nurses (male), they will have overall responsibility for their part of the hospital.

They will also wear a standard uniform of navy blue to make them easily identifiable to patients and their relatives.

Tanya Eccles, a nurse for 25 years, who works in the Withers Unit at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast, said she believes the initiative will prove beneficial to patients.

“I have been in my post for the past 11 years and was known as the ward manager but will now be the ward sister,” she said.

“I think the change supports and strengthens the ward sister’s role and our authority in the hospital.

“Now there is a clear definition for us to work around and we are in charge of things like cleanliness and ensuring patients are fed.

“We are a point of contact if someone has a concern.

“While it isn’t a major change, I think it is important there is someone there to take responsibility and be accountable.

“I am very passionate about what I do and the standards of care that are delivered in my unit.

“I honestly believe this will enhance the patient experience. The role of the ward sister is very privileged and pivotal.

“You are a role model for the entire team.”

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has stressed the importance of the new roles.

“I believe that the ward sister is the authority figure on the ward. You are in charge, uou say how your ward is run, you say how and when your ward is cleaned, and you have a say in how your staff behave — you are the boss.

“Earlier this year I provided £2m recurrent funding for this role. The public expect high standards from hospital staff.

“They want someone who is responsible for the running of the ward, the standard of cleanliness in that ward and to support patients as they recover from their illness.

“Ward sisters and charge nurses across Northern Ireland now have the support to take charge of their ward and this will make a great difference to the patient experience.”

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