The Association enjoyed a high level of influence from an early stage, regularly meeting with key players in the Ministry of Health and other important organisations. These relationships have developed over the years and still continue today.
From the outset, local branches were at the heart of the Association’s activity, enabling members to network with their peers and providing the Association a conduit through which to engage with its membership.
National events also provided learning and networking opportunities. Spring conferences – known as weekend schools - were established, and the long tradition of the Annual Luncheon and Conference began.
In 1964, the Association renamed itself the Association of Hospital Treasurers to reflect the new titles being adopted by the service’s senior finance officers and a badge of office was donated by the Leeds branch to recognise this change.
The Association’s quarterly journal (Hospital Service Finance) launched in the 1950s and by the 1960s had established a good reputation, with readers located as far away as Australia and the Middle East as well as those closer to home.
The Association also developed strong links with the US, instigated by former chairman Reginald Stacey’s 1964 visit to the American Association of Hospital Accountants– the organisation that was to become the US HFMA. This visit sowed the seeds for a future formal link between the two organisations.
In 1974 the Association formed a close strategic partnership with accountancy body CIPFA, with the Association’s Council acting as the Institute’s Health Committee. A new title was also adopted – the Association of Health Service Treasurers – better reflecting the recently reorganised NHS. Despite changes in title and management, the Association remained a clear and constant voice, advising and managing change and keeping finance at the heart of everyone’s thinking.
The US/UK exchange programme was established in 1981 building on the work done by Reginald Stacey, and the popular Fincare programme followed.
CIPFA helped the Association develop its profile. The traditional annual conference became an unmissable event in the NHS finance calendar attracting other professional bodies, the national press and key politicians such as Enoch Powell, Barbara Castle and Sir Keith Joseph.
The Association of Health Service Treasurers and its predecessors had been set up when there were few qualified accountants in the service apart from chief officers. But by 1986 this was no longer the case and the Association responded by opening its membership to all qualified finance staff. With this change came a new name: the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
The Association’s membership continued to increase as the internal market took hold in the early 1990s. During this period HFMA also produced the first edition of its Introductory Guide to NHS Finance, a publication which remains extremely popular today.
In 1998, the Association opened its doors to all finance staff becoming an organisation that represents the whole finance function, not just qualified accountants. However its focus - promoting high standards of financial management across the health service – remains unchanged
Towards the end of the 20th century the leadership of HFMA began to plot an independent course for the Association away from its CIPFA host.
In the year 2000 HFMA’s first Chief Executive, Mark Knight, was appointed. Subsequent successes of the Association, included its influencing agenda, numerous publications and policy papers, a newly launched magazine (Healthcare Finance), a national conference programme and many other new products and services. Its flagship annual conference continues to provide a platform for NHS leaders to address the NHS finance function.
With nearly 5,000 members and over 192,000 CPD hours delivered through e-learners, today’s HFMA looks very different from its humble beginnings. However, the Association’s objectives have not changed drastically over the years: HFMA still promotes a high standard of financial management; informs the service and UK Health Departments on financial matters and provides members opportunities for networking, discussion and research
The HFMA looks to build on our solid foundations of 65 years in operation, continuing our work in shaping the future of the National Health Service.