President’s tour: South Central

by Mark Orchard

15 September 2017


The HFMA’s South Central Branch is close to my heart. Not only have I lived in this patch for over a decade, I’ve spent three years of my career here navigating the transition between the pre- and post-Lansley NHS reforms. So stepping into the room – on this the fifth leg of my tour of all HFMA branches – felt a bit like a reunion for me. And it was great to catch up with friends and colleagues.

This is a branch that has grown in strength in recent years – an achievement that owes a lot to the tireless contribution of branch chairman Alex Gild. This conference marks an end to Alex’s lead role for South Central as he prepares to become national HFMA president from December. Into his place steps Sam Dukes, who comes with a remarkable story that encapsulates the success of this branch.

Several years ago, all NHS organisations within the region took the decision to follow in the footsteps of the South West and to take forward its finance skills development (FSD) programme under the HFMA umbrella. At the same time, the future-focused finance leaders in this patch agreed to invest in a regional graduate financial management training scheme (GFMTS) in South Central for South Central.

I mention this because just a few short years later, we are already seeing the return on this investment. Sam Dukes was one of the ‘products’ of South Central GFMTS, run by HFMA on behalf of the local organisations. Sam has recently taken up the role of head of finance, business planning and development at North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group. And in picking up the branch chair baton from Alex, he becomes the youngest ever HFMA branch chair on record.

Well done Sam, Alex and the South Central HFMA team. But perhaps more importantly, well done to all of the organisations across South Central that had the foresight to make this investment. By the way, the scheme continues to thrive and so we can look forward to many more success stories in the future.

So, with plenty of strength in depth as well, this is a branch to watch with interest. I was reminded that we have two of our most senior national HFMA board trustees from South Central in Alex and James Rimmer, who is of course the current national chair of our Audit and Finance Committee.

The timing of this branch conference is worth a mention. In previous years the South Central annual event has taken place much earlier in the calendar year. This year Alex took the brave decision to move the event back six months in the calendar, while sticking with a venue that continues to work well for all. The decision certainly paid off as it was the best attended South Central HFMA branch conference ever!

The theme for the event – Collaborating with purpose – captured the mood in the room perfectly. The agenda was peppered with lots of shared learning from across the patch as we move together from more traditional contracting approaches towards more accountable care-style models.

Once again I am reminded that the branch network is such an important engine for our association. Next up on my branch tour is Wales, which will be another chance to catch up with former colleagues doing a great job in challenging times. I look forward to it and I’ll tell you about it next time.


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: North West
President's tour: London
President's tour Yorkshire and Humber
President’s tour: West Midlands