By staff

The matron will once again be a key feature of British hospital wards under new plans being drawn up by the government, the prime minister will announce today.

The new ward leadership structure will be outlined during a tour of two English hospitals in which David Cameron will insist on the need for compassion and dignity in a clean environment

"I know that politicians are always saying bring back matron, but it rarely seems to happen," the prime minister will say.

"People want to see a figure of authority on the ward. Call them a matron, a ward sister, or a team leader. The point is the buck stops with them."

The prime minister will also outline plans for regular nursing rounds to systemically check patients are comfortable and fed, patient-led inspections of wards by local groups and a 'friends and family test' where patients are asked if they would recommend their care to their relatives when they leave the hospital.

"People have learnt from bitter experience to take David Cameron's pronouncements on the NHS with more than a pinch of salt," shadow health secretary Andy Burnham commented.

"If David Cameron really wants to help nurses focus on patient care, he should listen to what they are saying and drop his unnecessary health bill."

The new initiative comes amid heightened concern about hospital care, with a Care Quality Commission report finding one in five hospitals wanting.