President's tour: Kent, Surrey and Sussex

by Mark Orchard

17 October 2017


The eighth leg of my 2017 HFMA thirteen branch tour took me to Ashford where I was the opening speaker at their 24-hour learning event 'Lucky for sum' (the event started on Friday 13th).

I may have been the opening speaker, but as delegates were invited to take their seats the event kicked off with a video playback of Kylie Minogue performing her early hit, ‘I should be so lucky’. Follow that.

The HFMA Kent, Surrey and Sussex branch is indeed lucky to be chaired by Spencer Prosser, regional director of finance at NHS Improvement with administration supported by Elizabeth Taylor. The branch works very closely also with the South East Coast finance skills development (FSD) board.

And with 161 delegates attending a two-day event that would encroach on their weekends, this is a patch and group of individuals committed to professional development. This year, Kent, Surrey and Sussex will be the only branch to hold on to the once popular ‘weekend school’ format. Most delegates I spoke to were very much looking forward to investing their Saturday in a session to hone their personal effectiveness and also to hear from key note speakers including Terry Waite CBE.

Indeed the balance of agenda coverage here, spread across two days, would be difficult to beat anywhere and included national finance speakers, opportunities to share, contrast and learn from local health and care system experiences, as well as current topical sessions covering issues from cyber security to accountable care. The agenda also boasted an optional early morning annual golf competition for those with the energy to practise their swing.

One of the event highlights was hearing from Bob Alexander, deputy chief executive and executive director of resources at NHS Improvement. As we have come to expect, Bob spoke candidly about the challenges faced by NHS finance professionals both in this patch and across the county. Specifically, Bob used this session to say ‘thank you’ to delegates in the room and their colleagues back at base for the contribution they had made to delivering an aggregate balanced NHS financial position for 2016/17. 

It was significant then that just earlier that week Bob had confirmed that he would be stepping down from his national leadership role in the new year to lead the Sussex and East Surrey sustainability and transformation partnership. Big news nationally and a very significant addition to the local STP.

On behalf of the association, I would like to thank Bob for his enormous contribution to finance professional development over many years. Bob has always made time to speak at regional branch events as well as at the national HFMA conference. He has supported the annual HFMA awards judging panel and was instrumental in ensuring Future-Focused Finance got the support and direction needed from the very outset.

Personally, Bob has been there for me also when I needed his wise counsel, reflection and advice and for that I always be thankful. We wish Bob well in his new role in a patch that he knows well.

The next stop on the branch tour will be at Eastern Branch and I very much look forward to catching up with colleagues there.


President's tour: Scotland
President's tour: Eastern branch
President's tour: South West
President's tour: Wales
President's tour: North West
President's tour: London
President's tour Yorkshire and Humber
President’s tour: West Midlands
Presidents's tour: South Central