16,000 finance staff invited to shape the future

by Seamus Ward

25 September 2020

The NHS in England has opened a consultation on the future of the finance function and urged all 16,000 finance staff to get involved.

Launched at this week’s Future-Focused Finance value-maker annual conference, the FFF-led consultation seeks views on how the function can work better together and shape the future for finance staff across the NHS.Julian Kelly VM conf l

Billed as a ‘national online conversation’, the consultation – One NHS Finance – takes the form of a virtual workshop that can be accessed any time. Contributions are anonymous and finance staff can visit and share their opinions or read and rate ideas as often as they like.

The workshop is framed around four areas:

  • Growing and developing the workforce and ensuring the NHS is an employer of choice
  • Ensuring inclusivity, supporting wellbeing and fostering a culture of belonging and shared purpose
  • Improving the ways finance staff work together, systems and processes and identifying opportunities for innovation
  • Finding ways to learn from others and to work better as a finance community.

NHS England and NHS Improvement chief financial officer Julian Kelly (pictured) said the NHS finance community had added value during the pandemic response. It now had a chance to give its opinions on making the finance function a great place to work. Through the consultation, finance staff suggest what could be learnt from experiences over the last six months ‘to make the NHS better, our care for patients better, our use of taxpayers’ money better, and, indeed, the circumstances in which we work better’.

All NHS finance directors discussed this at a meeting early in 2020, he added. ‘There was an incredibly strong theme, which was we want to make one NHS finance function. We want to break down the barriers between commissioners, providers, and regional and national bodies, and genuinely create a sense of one NHS finance function.’

Mr Kelly urged all finance staff to contribute to the consultation. ‘I don’t care what job you do. I don’t care where you do it. I don’t care who you work for – we want to hear from you,’ he said.

‘What can we do better? What are we already doing well? What lessons can we learn as we think about how we can make one NHS finance function that is a great place to work; a world-beating place.’

Suzanne Robinson, FFF value-maker senior responsible officer (SRO), said the One NHS Finance campaign was not just for value-makers, but for the whole finance community. Ms Robinson, who is director of finance and IM&T at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, added the consultation is also an opportunity to reflect on what could be improved, particularly given the changes in the function since the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘We have done things in the last six months that I never thought possible. We have adapted and innovated and done jobs that we are not normally employed to do Through that there has been some positive learning.

‘My own reflection is that a lot of staff are working from home and still able to deliver. In the future it would be great if we kept some balance between working in the office and at home.’

Simon Worthington, SRO for engagement and development and finance director at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said his team felt closer together during Covid, even though they are working apart. This was due to better communication and he hoped to maintain this.

He added that value-makers had a big role to play in getting as many staff as possible to submit their views to the consultation.

‘You [value-makers] all have early access to the platform and can engage in the process that way. If every value-maker did that we would have over 2,000 voices in the conversation. That’s fantastic, but how can we get all 16,000 NHS finance staff involved? We could wait for someone to send an email or each one of you could speak to a colleague, get them to do it, and then someone else. Soon 16,000 will have joined the conversation.’

One NHS Finance can be accessed here