The health secretary's decision to expand the number of Community Matrons has received a qualified welcome from the public servants' union, while being derided as "token" by the Liberal Democrats. John Reid yesterday announced plans to recruit 3,000 new community matrons, to help care for those suffering from long-term conditions.
Commenting on this announcement, Unison head of health Karen Jennings stressed the importance for the health service of concentrating on those with chronic illness and disabilities, adding that, with this end in mind "we welcome the move to increase the number of community matrons". However, the union leader added: "There are already a huge number of people working in community healthcare with a rich mixture of skills, experience and expertise and any expansion must be as part of this multi-disciplinary team."
The Liberal Democrats have given a far more hostile reaction to the announcement, health spokesman Paul Burstow MP lamenting the ministerial predilection towards meddling with healthcare services. Mr Burstow stated: "There is already a chronic shortage of district nurses from which these community matrons would be drawn. Rather than focusing on the headlines Ministers should be backing the NHS in its efforts to recruit and retain such key frontline staff."
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