President's tour: North West

by Mark Orchard

30 June 2017

The North West is nationally renowned for leading the way on finance skills development. So it was especially rewarding for me to revisit this branch conference in the Blackpool venue that I had originally addressed some years ago during the launch of Future-Focused Finance.

Former HFMA president Tony Whitfield – recognised in June with a well-deserved OBE for his 30+ years’ services to patients in the NHS – had assured me that I would receive another warm welcome. And this multi-professional group of delegates did not let me down.

Let's start there. When I look at the delegate list, what sets this branch event apart from many others is the diverse range of attendees. Delegates include health informatics, procurement and operational service leads, as well as the more traditional finance professionals. This has to be healthy in creating a culture and a wider local workforce that is fit for the future.

The agenda itself covered topics that included A&E delivery, cyber security and digital excellence. My personal highlight was being able to connect the Salford Royal chief clinical information officer (CCIO), Gareth Thomas, with my own CCIO at Poole, Dr Rupert Page. It is often from these chance encounters and interactions where magic sparks happen and people can learn from each other’s innovation.

The theme for this event was 'All together now' and provided a timely reminder of how our roles and approaches need to change as we move away from competition towards collaboration. As a music fan of a certain generation, it was not lost on me that the band behind this early 1990s pop anthem – the Farm – were also from nearby Liverpool, home of the well-respected HFMA North West branch chair John Graham.

I keep reminding myself that these events are largely organised by keen, HFMA time-served volunteers such as John and the branch committee. And I very much look forward to celebrating some of these volunteer stories at our UK HFMA key supporters dinner next month.

I must say a big thank you to Hazel McLellan also. The administration behind this event was seamless once again and not to be taken for granted.

The busy exhibition hall was testimony to value in this particular network, with partner organisations also sponsoring a range of conference components including the main event (NHS Shared Business Services), the annual HFMA North West Awards (CIPFA) and drinks reception (Axon Resourcing). These events simply would not be possible without such support. Thank you.

This year the branch has received the highest number of award entries and the quality of the nominations were equally excellent, across three categories: finance team of the year, innovation/ research and unsung hero. The volume and quality of entries demonstrates that this is a thriving patch with lots to share, so I look forward to hopefully seeing another year of strong representation from the North West at our national awards in December.

Finally, this event also took the opportunity – through a charity raffle – to raise funds for Admiral Nurses, which provides specialist dementia support for local families in need. The raffle prizes were of course generously donated by the event sponsors.

All in all, I leave Blackpool with a skip in my step – and a damn good tune in my head (aforementioned classic) – knowing that this North West patch will continue to thrive long in to the future.


President's tour: Scotland
President's tour: Eastern branch
President's tour: Kent, Surrey and Sussex 
President's tour: South West
President's tour: Wales
President's tour: London
President's tour Yorkshire and Humber
President’s tour: West Midlands
Presidents's tour: South Central

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