Aim The aim of this study was to describe how matrons in an acute National Health Service trust perceive and undertake their role since its reconfiguration in 2005 and to investigate their needs for continuing professional development.
Background Matrons returned to acute National Health Service trusts in 2002 to provide a senior, authoritative nursing presence throughout clinical areas. Their function is to promote high standards of clinical care and leadership; ensure that administrative and support services are in place to deliver high standards of care; and provide a visible, accessible and authoritative presence in ward settings.
Methods Data were obtained by interview. A qualitative approach using a semi-structured interview schedule was used to obtain data from 22 matrons and the data were subjected to thematic analysis.
Results There were differences in the way that matrons performed their role. They promoted clinical leadership effectively and maintained a high clinical profile. Attempts to promote high standards of cleanliness and infection control were less effective because of the shortcomings of the domestic service.
Conclusion Overall the matron role is proving effective. However, matrons’ ability to promote adequate levels of environmental cleanliness and control infection is a cause for concern.
Implications for nursing managers The study findings suggest that where an existing service is performing poorly, expecting another occupational group to oversee it will not contribute to improvement unless resources can be improved.
What this paper adds to current knowledge This study has provided an in-depth evaluation of the matron role at a local level. It is to date the most comprehensive study of its kind.