08/01/2011

Could the tradional Matron ever return to the NHS?

We got on the subject of the poor performance of the NHS in the pub last night, well specifically the poor performance of hospitals - it seems to be a popular subject at the moment. The standard call for Matrons to be reinstated was met with the usual agreements by all, except from little old contrary me.

Not that I don't think its a good idea, if we assume that Matron is the type of character played by Hatti Jacques. One that marches round barking orders at all and sundry, including doctors, and only accepting the highest of standards. There is no doubt that sort of person would raise standards in any industry, but it just won't work in today's work place and especially the over protected civil service work place that we hear so much about.

I don't disagree that there is a problem as from my own experience of hospital wards as a patient and visitor there is a complete lack of direction. Nurses seem to gather around a "station" gossiping and then wandering about aimlessly doing the odd task and only going to patients when called. Nobody seems to be managing the ward, issuing tasks and making sure they are completed, walking about chatting to patients to see how they are, checking up on cleaners and and all the other tasks that a good manager should be doing.

The reason I don't think it will work is that people don't like taking orders nowadays, not that they ever really did, and within weeks, if not days, there would be complaints to HR and pretty soon talk of bullying. Matron would come under pressure to back off in case staff started leaving or worse still claims of constructive dismissal,  and many would be off sick with "stress" or some other ailment that can't be diagnosed. Pretty soon the whole thing would descend in to chaos.

So, no, bringing the traditional Matron isn't the solution, but more active management is needed.




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