Face-to-face time

by mark knight

Healthcare Finance comment, 31 August 2021


While most events continue to be delivered on-line, Mark Knight reflects on a cautious first return to in-person meetings.

It was a momentous day in July when we could finally get back together in the same room, under strict Covid conditions of course.  The reason for the gathering was our annual branches’ conference – and we were delighted that 10 of the 13 were represented.Mark Knight

For the association, this planted a small flag in the ground to mark our slow progress out of this pandemic. We are now moving cautiously into our autumn programme. But it won’t be until November that we see more face-to-face events and, even then, we will still be broadcasting content via the online conference platform. 

Work is well under way for the annual conference in December and bookings for both online and face-to-face content are healthy. The conference this year will be a little different. On Wednesday, we will host our popular fringe session, which will focus on the themes and work we’ve pursued under Caroline Clarke’s two-year leadership of the association. In the evening, we will celebrate our graduates’ success. And this will provide an opportunity to thank Caroline for her extended leadership role – all the more remarkable considering the significant workload you have all faced during the past 18 months.

On the Thursday, we will hold our annual general meeting and welcome Owen Harkin (pictured) as the incoming HFMA president. We also have a great day of learning and networking lined up and our conference team is busy putting all that together. And on the Friday, following the annual HFMA Awards and dinner the night before, we will send you home with a veritable feast of professional development.

It’s going to be a tremendous event, so don’t hesitate to book. And if you can’t attend in person, please look into our online package, which allows the whole finance team to get involved. All daytime sessions will be broadcast. In fact, the event actually starts on Monday, with half of the content available exclusively online.

One of the big jobs for our new president will be to spearhead the discussions over the HFMA’s future direction and I will naturally be there to assist the board in that task. Quite a lot has changed since our last strategy refresh in 2017 and we need to think about the direction the organisation takes. By the time the next magazine comes to you, we will have taken possession of our new office in Bristol. 

The early financial results show we returned a small surplus, subject to audit, for the last financial year – a significant achievement given the disruption caused by Covid. Our conference centre is due to reopen in September and we are building a good pipeline of business.

After a year of adapting and becoming more digitally connected, we have taken time to reflect on how we can move forward and learn from the experiences we’ve had. As a team, we’ve been reviewing our work, our approach and our offerings, and are working on a new brand look to take the association into a new era. Members will get a first view of this when we launch, so keep an eye out for changes in November.

So what is the secret of our success? Well, you, of course – our members, without whom we couldn’t function in any meaningful way. If you aren’t yet involved and would like to be, let me know via chiefexec@hfma.org.uk and we’ll see what we can do.  Have a great autumn!