Support now and in the future

by Mark Knight

14 January 2021


The country should be proud of the whole NHS community – both those on the frontline and in support roles – for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. All NHS staff deserve the country’s and the government’s on-going support, but we also need to ensure the service is better prepared and properly funded for future challenges.

 

Happy new year from the HFMA and, as many have said, let’s hope it is a vast improvement on 2020!

The sheer ferocity of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is putting unprecedented strain on NHS services – many are working at full capacity.  Up and down the country we hear of full wards and increasing use of mechanical ventilation, with many intensive care units running flat out. Staff are performing heroics, but they are understandably exhausted, particularly because they are often having to cover for colleagues who are off work with the virus or self-isolating.

I know finance teams across the NHS are also working tirelessly to support their frontline colleagues in all sorts of different ways. At the HFMA, we are proud of all our NHS staff and of your contribution to the service’s response to this pandemic.

We are obviously focused right now on the immediate, emergency response to the pandemic and this second wave, which appears to be fuelled by a new coronavirus variant. But we will feel the effects of the pandemic for a long time beyond the immediate crisis.

For a start, we know there are a lot of patients who will need longer term care as they suffer from long Covid or post-Covid syndrome. Similarly staff have likened their experiences to working on battlefields and many will need help and support into the future. 

They will need to see demonstrable investment in health services over time as we recover from the pandemic. And the staff shortages with which the NHS entered the pandemic need to be addressed. This is both to ensure the service is better prepared for any future outbreaks and to deliver the transformation still needed in our services to meet the demands driven by demographic change.

I hope the HFMA can play into future discussions over future funding as we have done in the past.  We will be making the case hard for a fair future settlement for the NHS.

The association will also continue to support finance practitioners directly by publishing relevant guidance and briefings to help you in your professional lives and share best practice across the service. And our news service will signpost the information that matters to you and provide analysis of key developments.

Do let us know if we are (or aren’t!) hitting the right tone and what else you’d like to see.  We are currently planning to hold face-to-face events again from September onwards, but clearly we will keep this under review as the vaccination programme rolls out and in line with national recommendations. We will continue to operate virtually in the meantime, continuing a programme of virtual webinars, events and forums.

The virtual annual conference in December was a great success and we recorded a 95% good/excellent score in delegate feedback. I enjoyed it enormously, but it was a mammoth effort and I am very grateful for all who participated and those colleagues ‘behind the scenes’.  Particular thanks go to our conference team and Jon Kelly and his staff at our technical support partner Meet and Potato. 

We managed to involve a much larger proportion of the finance community than we would in a physical conference and many aspects of the programme worked brilliantly, so there’s a lot to think about for how we move forward.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing I want to thank you again for your service to the NHS.  There is hope now with the rollout of vaccines. This clearly represents a further big challenge for the NHS, but one I am confident the health service will rise to.  Stay safe, I am looking forward to seeing you all again – in person!