Max is Southend’s first male matron
09 May 2017
Max Ndongwe is Southend University Hospital’s first ever male matron and if he looks fresh-faced that’s because at 34, he is the youngest matron ever at the Trust. It’s a role he has held at the hospital since he started six months ago and is a role he has been working towards for the past 12 years.
Max said that being a man in a role stereotypically held by a
woman hasn't been an issue. He said: "Staff I'm working with see
beyond the gender, they just see me as a leader but I think that is
a little different with the patients as traditionally it has very
much been a role led by women.
"Some people have said shouldn't I be called Patron instead, one
of my patients even knitted a doll for me in my colours, which they
lovingly called Mantron, it still sits on my desk. Ultimately
though, patients do see beyond it. It can be a great ice-breaker.
The way I have been received by both patients and fellow staff has
been amazing; it has been a real positive experience for me."
As a young, black ethnic minority, matron Max is something of a
trailblazer and his journey has been inspiring to other male
nurses. He said: "A number of male nurses have asked me to mentor
them so that they can follow the steps that I took; I'm currently
mentoring a male surgical nurse who wants to gain more clinical
When it comes to nursing in general though, men are still in the
minority and make up only 11.4% of nurses in the UK, but that is
something that Max believes is shifting. He said: "Nursing is
changing, more men are coming into nursing, and I think that is now
seen as more of a profession than as a vocation."
Max was also very clear and what he saw the role of a Matron
being. He said: "Matrons are the voice for the nurses and HCAs. We
bring the essence of what is happening on the shop floor, bridging
a vital gap between what is happening on the ward and the
operational team.. Our fingers are on the pulse of what is
happening in our areas, all of which helps give the operational
team the assurance that we are all working together to provide a
safe environment for patients and practitioners..
And that engagement of clinicians in the leadership and
management engagement process is something that Max applauds.
He said: "I'm really pleased to say that we do have excellent
clinical leadership here at Southend with managing Director, Yvonne
Blücher and Director of Nursing, Denise Townsend, both having
strong nursing backgrounds. Clare Panniker, Chief Executive of the
three Trusts (Basildon, Mid Essex and Southend) is also a former
nurse and she is one of my heroes."
Max didn't always want to be a nurse though; he spent his first
year after high school studying computer programming, but, being a
people person, found it completely boring.
Nursing runs in his family as his mum is a nurse, his sister and
cousin are nurses and his brother-in-law is an operating department
practitioner. It was very much a career choice that his mum made
him promise tonotgo into though.
Max explained: "My mum felt she had sacrificed a lot to
provide for us and she didn't want me to sacrifice the same.
To be fair she is partly to blame for me breaking that one and only
promise. She helped get me some paid work at a care home and that
was where my passion for nursing was born. I absolutely loved
"My mum is very proud of me, when I qualified and wore my gown,
she cried. She has been the most supportive person in my career and
is still giving me advice and tips. I'm so proud of her as well, I
wouldn't be where I am today without her."