President's tour: Northern Ireland

by Mark Orchard

28 November 2017


‘Black Friday’ at the Titanic, Belfast, marked the 13th and final leg of my 2017 HFMA branch conference tour. Northern Ireland was always going to be special for me, particularly given my inclusive ‘Everyone counts’ theme focusing on engaging with, and learning from, our membership across all four UK nations.

All three ‘devolved nations’ branch conferences have had a national feel. Northern Ireland was no different with the opening addressing from Richard Pengelly, Department of Health permanent secretary. Colleagues in the room were recognised for their contribution to health and social care in an uncertain political period and encouraged to influence the pace of transformation across the sector.

Delegates heard also from Paul Cummings, a former HFMA national chairman, currently serving as director of finance for the Health and Social Care Board. Among Paul’s key messages was a reminder that the service would need to change into the future, with a focus increasingly moving away from asking ‘what’s the matter to you’ towards a focus on ‘what matters to you’.

Taking the lead on sharing and learning from across the UK, the conference included a session from both Alan Brace, Welsh government’s health and social care director of finance. And it also heard from Professor Tim Briggs, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust on England’s Getting it right first time (GIRFT) programme experience to date. Alan talked about the Once for Walesapproach to business support services as well as early achievements linked to value-based decision-making in procurement. This has included a move from traditional cost and volume approaches towards inviting suppliers to contract on outcomes.

As with all of our branch conferences, this event simply would not have happened without the personal hard work and leadership of the Northern Ireland Branch committee, chaired ably by our national HFMA board trustee Owen Harkin. I must also single out Kim Ferguson for her tireless work for this branch on behalf of the association. Thank you Kim.

During a busy period in my HFMA calendar, this was my second trip to Northern Ireland in just a few weeks, having visited Antrim Area Hospital  for the UK HFMA board of trustees’ meeting hosted by Owen at the end of October.

Engaging for transformation was the branch conference theme for the day. Attendees were committed to continuing to work collaboratively across trusts, commissioners and with Department of Health colleagues to deliver collective requirements across an integrated health and social care environment.

This was a timely reminder that, irrespective of which UK nation we currently work within, our financial, workforce and operational challenges are broadly aligned despite our differing governance models.


President's tour: Eastern
President's tour: Kent, Surrey and Sussex 
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
President's tour: South Central
President’s tour: Scotland
President’s tour: East Midlands
President’s tour: Northern