Comment / In development

06 December 2021 Mark Knight

The HFMA annual conference is upon us again and I cannot believe it’s been two years since we’ve all been together. Even now, yet another variant, omicron, is with us and, understandably, the concern level has increased.Mark Knight

The morale of the NHS is being severely tested as we work through a very grim winter. As usual, the finance profession is doing its outstanding best to support clinical colleagues, with the association providing timely advice and help.

The service is not standing still and focusing solely on Covid-19. We are moving rapidly towards a reconfiguration, with a greater focus on systems. There remain significant financial challenges – both in terms of revenue and capital. And as for technical changes, we will finally see the application of the new accounting standard for leasing in April.

One aspect of the support provided by the HFMA is the opportunity for training and development. Our HFMA Hub provides a tailored programme through our growing number of networks. We hope in 2022 to continue our themed programmes, many online, some hybrid and a few face-to-face only.

This is supplemented by our network of professional committees. A good example is the Accounting and Standards Committee, which focuses on the detail of financial accounting. That committed group helps out at the ever-popular pre-accounts planning conferences.

Our branch network provides a further support mechanism. I wasn’t able to get to the Northern Branch, but I did make the Yorkshire and Humber, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, and East Midlands annual conferences – all excellent events, well attended and organised with aplomb by the local leaders and committees.  I hope that by the summer, we’ll be a in better position to host more face-to-face events.

But there’s much more to our development opportunities. There are about 180 hours of free e-learning on the electronic staff record (for England and Wales staff). This bite-sized content is supported by a grant from NHS England and NHS Improvement and arranged into 28 topic areas. If you’re in the NHS, it’s free to access, and 30,000 courses have been assigned to learners. Why not join in?

And so to the conference. This is a chance to listen to first-rate speakers and for face-to-face delegates to meet again. It will be a great event that we hope will start to draw a line under the past two years. We have some amazing speakers across the five days and it will be an opportunity to meet new president Owen Harkin.

I couldn’t finish the year without thanking one individual who has led us for two years. Caroline Clarke doubled her time as president, despite her incredibly busy role as group chief executive of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Caroline is an amazing person, who leads and inspires not only at the HFMA, but also at her own organisation. I’ve known her since 2003, but the past two years I’ve had the privilege of seeing her operate at close quarters. Thank you, Caroline, for all your amazing work. You will always have a special place at HFMA.

I’m sure she would say she was once an aspiring junior too. And if you want to get involved with us, I guarantee you’ll get as least as much out as you put in!


New colours
You may have noticed things are looking a little different this issue. Welcome to our new look. Our new colours have been chosen to align with our aim to be an accessible and digital organisation. It also underlines our enthusiasm to promote environmental sustainability best practice. Expect to see future outputs – from the national association and its branches – to sport the new look.