1.4.1 Ward managers: Their perceived role in influencing patient care (264)

Janet Scott, Associate Senior Lecturer, Health Development, School of Health University of Greenwich, London, United Kingdom



This study attempted to examine the role of ward managers in relation to practice as few attempts have been made to consider changes in their role as pressure has increased on nurses to undertake managerial roles. The ward manager is now expected to spend considerable time achieving corporate objectives (Scott et al 2004). Whilst research has been carried out into the role of nurse practitioners and specialist nurses (Ball 2005) and modern matrons (Scott et al 2004), little research has been carried out into the role of the ward manager since the name change in the early 1990's, the introduction of specialist nurses and the appointment of modern matron. Yet there is increasing evidence that patient outcomes are related to staffing levels and the appropriate skill mix (Rafferty et al 2006).


To examine the ward managers perception of their role in the provision of quality care. Methodology This paper presents some of the findings from a qualitative study examining the role of the ward manger in two NHS Acute Trusts. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a voluntary sample of 16 ward managers, from acute care and maternity wards. The interviews were taped, transcribed and their content analysed.


Despite incessant onerous demands for managerial information from senior management, the emphasis on accountability, staffing levels and the lack of feedback, the ward managers 14(87.5%) still participated in direct patient care.


Ward managers had pride in their clinical expertise and their ability to play a role model for junior staff. Only 6(38%) felt valued, a factor which could influence recruitment to these posts.


Despite the name change, increasing responsibilities and the introduction of other nursing posts, ward managers still felt they should play a pivotal role in the provision of quality care.

Recommended reading list:

  • Ball.J (2005) Maxi nurses. Advanced and specialist nursing roles Royal College of Nursing
  • Rafferty A M., Clarke S.P., Coles J., Ball J., James P., McKee M., Aiken L.H. (2006) "Outcomes of variation in hospital nurse staffing in English hospitals: Cross-sectional analysis of survey data and discharge records" International Journal of Nursing Studies 44: 2, pp 175-182
  • Scott C., Savage J., Read S., Ashman M. (2004) Evaluation of the Modern matron role in a sample of NHS Trusts Royal College of Nursing and University of Sheffield School of Nursing and Midwifery


An experienced nurse, midwife, hospital manager and educationalist having worked in the UK and overseas. At present she teaches health policy and health service management to undergraduates and post graduates. Has undertaken research into the roles of health service staff.