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Becoming a Matron

Ali Turner, Benenden Hospital Matron

Ali Turner has been Matron at Benenden Hospital since 2013. In this, the final conversation in the series (see Part 1 and Part 2), Ali talks about her role at a modern, 21st century hospital and the opportunities it also brings to contribute to the hospital’s five-year business plan.

"The idea that a Matron is an old -fashioned status symbol is quite amusing in a way, yet a bit frustrating in another because the role is as important now as it’s ever been, it’s certainly not just about status!

"In my interpretation of the role, I see it as being about a clear and visible clinical leader, a figure head of sorts and an ambassador for the organisation. I’m a link between the clinical services and the wider hospital, and all the while being there for the patients.

"To be a successful hospital like Benenden, you need someone to be ready and able to have the oversight to lead and direct the clinical functions within the Hospital and to bring cohesion between the various healthcare disciplines – nursing, allied healthcare, doctors, etc.

"Often my role deals with very complex issues including patient outcomes, complaints, risk, quality, continuous improvement and increasingly these days, financial, planning, development and strategic matters.

"I’m fortunate to work with some fantastic senior people including my own Directors, who are always keen to include me in their discussions and planning and will often ask for my opinion on any plans, be they for new services or for the development of existing ones.

"Today’s hospital Matron also needs to have a degree of commercial acumen and be able to contribute to the business’s continuous improvement commitments, its commercial viability discussions and evaluation.

"To that end, I’m actively encouraged to have a presence at various forums and committees where the hospital’s business plans are regularly discussed and reviewed. These groups include integrated clinical governance, risk management, occupational health and safety, radiation protection, and infection prevention and control.

"While this list may seem like a lot, what it does tell you is just how far the Matron’s reach goes and how the role can influence decisions.

"The CQC assesses how well-led Trusts are when they talk about Matron’s role being there to ensure a culture of caring and continuous improvement, through having clear standards of behaviour and a ‘zero tolerance’ to poor care. Essentially, the Matron is there to lead, enquire, inspect, assess, audit, investigate, challenge and to give a voice that raises any issues of concern – real or potential.

"I’m so proud to be a nurse and in carrying out my role I like to think I bring experience, credibility, energy and passion for the role of Matron. I’m interested in others, and I ask a lot of questions – ask anyone!

"I’m enthusiastic and I drive high expectations while at the same time I see it as part of my role to inspire confidence and ability in others. The role of Matron really is far more varied than you might imagine."

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Published on 17 May 2021