Keeping the network running

by Mark Knight

03 April 2020


The HFMA will continue to support the NHS finance function in this crucial time and ensure that people stay connected

This blog is part of the new Healthcare Finance weekly update from HFMA.  During this period, we will not be printing our regular monthly magazine but instead producing this new weekly bulletin.

It will be news-led, focusing on the service’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But we also want to focus specifically on the finance function’s role in supporting the heroic efforts of frontline staff.

This will include looking at how finance teams continue to deliver their normal activities in anything but normal circumstances – keeping money flowing around the system, delivering annual accounts and ensuring governance and control mechanisms remain in place. But we hope it will also report on where finance teams have taken on different roles and activities – outside their normal financial territory – to support their organisations and colleagues. If you’ve got a story to share please drop a line to Healthcare Finance editor steve.brown@hfma.org.uk.

Healthcare Finance weekly will also signpost work from our policy and technical team to support finance teams during this demanding time. It aims to get briefings and information out to finance teams fast to support a rapidly changing agenda.

Work to date includes our Summary of coronavirus cost reimbursement guidance and revised financial arrangements, which quickly became one of the most viewed documents on our website. And we have also published Covid-19 financial governance considerations to help teams work through the governance issues that they need to address as new working arrangements are put in place.

The clear priority is supporting the service’s immediate operational and clinical response to the virus outbreak. But the NHS will be called to account for its stewardship of public funds once the pandemic is over and finance teams have a major role in this area.

The team has also produced a Covid-19 guidance map. Following the approach taken in the popular NHS efficiency map and NHS corporate governance map, the new map brings together the guidance to support NHS finance and governance professionals as they respond to the current pandemic. It is split into six sections: financial arrangements; financial governance; annual accounts and annual report 2019/20; fraud prevention; workforce; and further information on Covid-19 developments.

There is also support of a very practical nature, recognising that significant parts of the finance function will now be working from home. HFMA top ten tips for working from home and Tips for using Microsoft Teams for meetings both draw on the association’s own experience in these areas. The association is running all its committees, meetings and training virtually and Teams is a good way of doing this.  We also have a significant proportion of our staff who work exclusively from home.

We’ve also not forgotten our chair, non-executive director and lay member community. NEDs and Covid-19: guidance for non-executive directors and lay members explores sets out the key issues they should be aware of, exploring how Covid-19 impacts on their role and what they should be doing differently.

We’ll also spotlight our new series of podcasts. Our clinical trustee Sanjay Agrawal, a consultant in respiratory medicine and intensive care at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, has agreed to provide regular podcasts looking at the impact of Covid-19, reflecting on his experiences and how the service might learn from the current challenges. We will be supplementing these podcasts with further insights from other people working across different sectors, regions and roles.

And Healthcare Finance weekly is also where you will find our continuing news alerts service, providing quick links to all the guidance, publications and comment that you may have missed during the week.

I’m also keen to take the opportunity to flag up to you our newly launched 18 bitesize online courses at level four and seven (technician and masters level).  These are free to the NHS.  They are currently available on the Electronic Staff Record only although organisations that want them on their own learning management systems can apply to us (send me a note to chiefexec@hfma.org.uk).  Please have a look if you’ve got the time.  And there are hundreds more hours of content available if your organisation is signed up to the association’s bitesize programme.

I’d also like to thank publicly the HFMA staff, who are totally dedicated to serving members.  They have done a sterling job to keep services going in this period.  Some of them are being stood down for a period as there are no events taking place. But if you email a contact you will be directed to someone who can help you with any queries you have.

And finally, thank you, for your service and dedication to our national health service.  It is a tough period for our country, but I’m proud of the way the finance profession is working to support the NHS.  Thank you for reading and stay safe!