Posted on: 17 April 2019

Lee, 36, has been one of the Matrons at St Charles (specifically the acute wards Thames, Ganges and Danube) since January 2019, after 15 years in Brent; working with his colleague things are changing.

He’s just been round the wards when we meet up; he’s being shadowed by Alisha who is on the Capital Nurse Programme and when I say I’ve heard he’s already having an effect, Alisha nods in agreement.

Lee says, “I will be visible, will know what’s happening for staff that day and I want them to know they can tell me their problems, at work or whatever.”

“Sometimes things need to be done differently and sometimes staff are unsure for all kinds of reasons – that’s when a matron needs to be assertive, give direction and staff will respond.”

Originally he was reading accountancy at University but didn’t think it was for him, so, after some volunteering with a charity working with addictions and homeless people he got a job as an HCA and from there he was encouraged to do his nurse’s training – a route he’d definitely recommend to others.

“Being an HCA helped me a lot, taught me from the front line with great mentors in Sarah Farooq and Elaine Seagram, great role models.” He has organised an away day in June for HCAs to talk about the opportunities for development.

This gave him his outlook on the job.

“Good care is built on the basics and in that sense I’m an old fashioned nurse – the first thing I did here was the mattress and pillow audit; infection control is basic good practice.”

He’s just been teaching on a Band 6 Clinical Leader’s course, “I did two sessions on site management and ‘Datix Huddles’. These are quiet simple and very effective (and I gave a presentation for the Trust to the South of England Collaborative on this too). We get the Serious Incident reports, gather the staff and discuss them to make sure it doesn’t’ happen again – really good practice and it works – where I tried it the ward saw a 95 percent reduction in violent incidents.”

“There’s no doubt that wards are having more unwell people and that there are increased risks – weapons and so on – so it means that safety plans, how and when to conduct searches (we have the wands) are really important. We’ve got four staff on an advance course to act as a team who specialise in searches, managing violence, to act as a security team but most importantly training others.”

Time is important to Lee.

He was brought up in White City and lives local to St Charles. With three children, 13, 8 and 1, he says he doesn’t have time for hobbies – it used to be football (he was semi pro at Greenford Town in the past) but no more; his partner works part time at M&S so sometimes it’s home for a handover with the children – helping his daughter with her piano lessons or gymnastics; “So it’s a bit of Xbox now – though my partner is probably better than me!”

“I arrive 15 minutes before my shift – sometimes 30 – as this allows you time for your checks – equipment and what’s been going on. This is about respect for your colleagues – especially if they’ve been on overnight; get the handover done and let them go on. I’m not one of those who sit in their cars waiting for the hour to strike; respect your colleagues. You’ll get that respect back.”

Throughout the conversation Lee mentions ‘fairness’ a lot. “It’s important that everyone is treated the same, a matron can’t be biased – even if someone is not performing well, address it in a fair way.”

“Rostering will be done six weeks in advance so everyone will know what’s expected; and there will be rest and leave planning, and that means we can start to recruit and cultivate some bank staff for a an extended time.”

“I don’t think this rostering target has been reached before here – it is now. But also I’ve found some issues were dragging morale down –  shifts for band threes being paid band 2 rates; got that sorted.”

“I had a band five who was going to leave – her pay was going down and had been for months. And no one seemed to know why. I asked to see her wage slip and saw the acronym ‘SSP’ on there – she was still counted as off sick! from months ago! Now it’s sorted with my apology.”

I hope she stays because things are happening at St Charles!