Vital support for finance teams

by Mark Knight

Healthcare Finance comment, 27 March 2020


Association chief executive Mark Knight reflects on HFMA support for the finance function

Mark KnightHistory will remember 2020 for one thing – the Covid-19 pandemic and the biggest public health emergency in modern times. The effects will be long lasting on our economy and on people’s lives. Beyond the direct consequences in terms of deaths and illness, there may well be a sizeable indirect impact, with mental health a concern as a result of isolation and staying at home.

At this point, the focus is on the here and now and how we can all play our part in flattening the peak to protect the most vulnerable in society and reduce the burden on our health services.

Frontline health and care staff have already displayed amazing commitment, bravery and determination in these early days and the pressure will increase in the coming weeks. They deserve the public’s thanks and support.

Our own NHS finance community has its own important part to play in ensuring the frontline can stay focused on the safe delivery of care.

The overriding goal of changes to the finance regime is to ensure money is not a barrier to the care that must be delivered, and finance teams will have a leading role in putting this principle into action. At its most basic, staff and suppliers have to be paid, but accounts must be finalised and core governance arrangements observed too.

The HFMA will play its part in supporting finance teams during this challenging period. My colleagues in the HFMA policy team, led by Emma Knowles, have set to work developing a whole range of initiatives.  Her recent blog explains the initial proposals in more detail.

Covid-19Our aim is to provide as much support as possible. Of particular note are plans to launch a message board for finance staff so you can share experiences and pass on useful tips. We are also exploring a programme of webinars.

In addition, all the HFMA’s outputs related to Covid-19 will be freely available to all NHS finance staff, not just HFMA members. This includes policy and technical publications and news content. The policy team will be focusing on work that supports practitioners in the current situation.

I wanted to draw your attention to two things you might consider. First, we hope by December this outbreak will be over and the HFMA annual conference will be able to proceed. We will certainly have a lot to reflect on and we hope to see you there.

Second, the free bitesize programmes will shortly be available on the electronic staff record system. There are 60 hours free online. If you would like this material available on your own system, please drop me a note with your learning management system’s contact name at chiefexec@hfma.org.uk.

The HFMA office in Bristol and the Rochester Row facilities are now both closed. Not surprisingly, all our staff are working from home and all meetings have moved online. 

At the HFMA, we are aware of the hard work undertaken by all NHS staff – on the frontline and in support services – at all times.

However, we recognise that the current pressure is unprecedented in modern times.
We thank you for your commitment and effort. Stay safe and make sure you follow the government’s guidance. We look forward to normality –whenever that may be!