HFMA Academy: graduation success

Healthcare Finance technical, 27 March 2020

Both finance and clinical staff were among the first graduates from the BPP University MBA in healthcare finance

Finance and clinical staff were among the first six graduates from the BPP university MBA in healthcare finance, having followed the pathway provided by the HFMA level 7 advanced higher diploma.

May NgMay Ng became the first clinician to achieve the MBA, gaining a merit in the process. Dr Ng is an honorary associate professor, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist and associate medical director at Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust.

No stranger to qualification – this is her fifth degree – Dr Ng says the business and finance qualifications were crucial to supporting her role as a clinical manager. ‘Most clinical managers are full-time clinicians and we don’t have the foundation or training in management and finance,’ she says. Even the language used in management meetings can put up barriers.

‘Thanks to the qualification, I am more confident and able to lead as a senior clinical manager,’ she says. ‘I feel better able to inform my executives and be a bridge in driving improvements. I would have struggled without this background.’

She believes more should be done to encourage or support clinicians to undertake this sort of training. ‘If you want to talk about NHS value in healthcare, efficiency and sustainability, you need clinicians in the room with managers, but they do not routinely have the background knowledge in finance and management to enable them to be fully informed,’ she says. Her MBA healthcare consultancy project looked at this important issue of improving engagement between clinicians and managers.

Julia McLartyJulia McLarty, head of redevelopment finance at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, was one of the successful students, tracing her involvement in the HFMA qualification back to its first pilot programme in 2017.

The MBA, which she passed with distinction, has been demanding but well worth the effort. However, she says aspects of the HFMA advanced higher diploma and the BPP MBA programme for the final year have already helped in her day job.

‘The value module as part of the diploma provided me with a bit of a lightbulb moment, and really changed the way I think about the finance role in putting the patient first,’ she says. ‘And the MBA programme, which was more corporate-focused, gave me some insight into strategic management that helped me to feed positively into my trust’s own strategy.’

Overall, she says, the qualification has given her more structured knowledge about, and a theoretical base for, her role in the NHS.

Ms McLarty sees a difference between the diploma studies, which were well supported by tutorials and online activities, and the more independent study demanded by the final year. She highlights the support of the HFMA Policy and Research Committee as crucial in delivering the final year healthcare consultancy project.

She aims to share the findings of her own project – exploring engagement by finance practitioners with the HFMA London Branch and Future-Focused Finance – with the two finance networks. She has emerged with some interesting insights into the levels of engagement of younger and more senior finance staff.

Steven HeppinstallFinally, Steven Heppinstall, associate director of finance at Derbyshire Support and Facilities Services – part of Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – believes the value aspects of the diploma and MBA programme, in which he gained a distinction, have been particularly helpful to his full-time role. ‘The biggest thing is a wider appreciation for how healthcare is structured, how it fits into the overall economy and how things work in other countries and regions,’ he says.

‘The focus on value has really hit home for me. It is really relevant to system working – it comes up so much in system meetings – and having studied that puts me in a really good place.’