By DAVID WOODING
A THOUSAND matrons have vanished from hospitals in the past three years - despite David Cameron’s pledge to give them more clout.
NHS figures show that one in six of the top nursing jobs have gone since Labour’s last year in power.
It emerged just months after the PM promised to have more figures of authority on the wards.
Mr Cameron said: “Nursing needs to be about patients not paperwork. People want to see a figure of authority on the ward. Call them a matron, a ward -sister, or a team leader.”
But official figures show the number of modern matrons has fallen from 5,035 to 4,157 between 2009 and August this year.
Community matron numbers were down from 1,552 to 1,391 over the same period, according to statistics published in the Commons.
Labour said the figures were a blow to moves to improve leadership and cleanliness on wards.
Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne (pictured above) said: “David Cameron promised to back matron, but he’s sacked matron instead.
“A formidable matron on a hospital ward goes a long way to reassure patients. They lead the nurses and make sure wards are spotless. Yet the Prime Minister’s spending cuts have cost the NHS a thousand matrons.
“Without strong leaders on the wards patients will pay the price. Ministers are taking unacceptable risks with standards of patient care. They cannot continue to ignore the warnings from nurses’ leaders.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The NHS needs senior nurses to lead patient care at ward level. We want to see more of that – not less. But this data is wrong, as it doesn’t take account of four different types of senior nurses. Looking at matron numbers alone is simplistic.
“We want to free up nurses’ time so they can spend it with patients – not with paperwork.”