HFMA Scotland: what type of branch do we want to be?

by Craig Marriott

11 March 2020

What do finance professionals in Scotland want from their HFMA branch?

As I began my tenure as chair of the HFMA Scotland Branch I found myself reflecting on what membership means for finance professionals in Scotland. And how can we as a branch help the finance workforce support our clinical and operational colleagues in providing the best quality care possible?

My thoughts started with the annual branch conference. Overall, the feedback we received suggests the 2019 conference was once again very successful and planning now starts for 2020 – what to keep, what to tweak and what to change (including training on how to use the app for a Q&A session!). But October 2020 seems such a long way off.

This leaves me thinking that we need to be doing more as a branch throughout the whole year – rather than just an annual get together.

Different regional HFMA branches across the UK run a number of different events for their members, so why not Scotland? Training days covering a particular topic or discipline (VAT or costing, for example), or focused towards a certain level of finance (such as an introduction to finance or business partnering). Maybe we should have workshops to help hone our softer skills in terms of working with colleagues outside of finance.

One thing I’m certain of, the level of enthusiasm and shared learning should not be constricted to a single annual event. But it doesn’t have to be a physical meeting – sharing of information, research and best practice can all be done via other means such as a newsletter, blogs, webinars or research publications. 

In addition to how we develop our teams and individuals, I’m keen for HFMA Scotland to be able to provide a voice for finance professionals. Whether as a vehicle to share our successes, new ways of working and service redesigns, or as an avenue to constructively respond to the recommendations and challenges set out by both NHS Scotland and Audit Scotland.

Being an active member of HFMA, including attendance at national events and committees, gives me an opportunity to recognise how much finance professionals across the UK provide support to each other. This is not always formal. It is often more of a problem shared or a query answered over a coffee before a meeting. Or a conference or event provides a networking opportunity to discuss ideas and share solutions. Our finance directors meet routinely in this way, so why not use HFMA to provide similar opportunities across all finance bands?

One of our members, Andrew Bone, recently participated in an HFMA webinar Exploring the role of an NHS finance business partner.  And we hear regularly that the role of finance is changing, with advances in technology and market demands paving the way for a more forward-thinking proactive service. Importantly this is required while maintaining control of the fundamental score-keeping duties.

During times of such transition it is important for a clear and shared understanding of the path and the destination to be communicated, monitored and reviewed. Through training, networking and offering opinions, I’m hopeful this is a role HFMA Scotland can help fill.

Plans just shy of world domination though need to be met with resources, and I certainly don’t intend on answering the questions of my excitable mind alone. For now, I’ve left the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ formulating in the minds of the branch committee, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they come back with next time we meet. Equally I’d love to hear from any members out there about the type of training needs and research requirements HFMA Scotland could fulfil.

So what type of branch would I like us to be? Easy – an active one! What type of branch are we going to be? Well that’s up to us all…….

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