HFMA 2020: be proud and be hopeful, president says

by Seamus Ward

10 December 2020

HFMA president Caroline Clarke has urged finance staff to continue to take pride in the future as she began her second year in office.

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A year ago, she had set out her presidential theme, Taking pride in our future, at a time when Brexit appeared to be the biggest issue facing the country. Then Covid-19 hit.

‘I guess you could say it really was a year to be proud of the NHS. It still is. We’ve never seen such an outpouring of affection for what still is our most loved institution,’ she told the HFMA annual conference.

‘And we kept the show on the road. This was genuinely the NHS at its best. Yes, it was stretched, but the resilience, professionalism, and sheer guts of its staff – including us – meant that 2020 really has been a year to be proud of.’

Life would return to normal and she asked delegates to look forward with the same spirit as the Attlee government when the NHS was created.

While the effects of Covid had been awful, some positives could be taken from the crisis, including the faster pace of change, more flexible working and digital transformation. The One NHS Finance initiative offered the opportunity to bring forward new working practices and models.

She continued: ‘I want this next stage of my presidency to be one of hope and optimism focusing on how we rebuild our service and return to some form of normality while still learning the lessons of 2020.’

Ms Clarke thanked the association staff for their work during a difficult year. Earlier, the HFMA annual general meeting voted to revise its articles to allow her presidential term to be extended by a year. Owen Harkin and Lee Bond have been appointed vice-presidents, while Kim Li has been appointed trustee for her first three-year term.

David Chandler and Maureen Edwards have been co-opted onto the board for their first three-year term. Elizabeth O’Mahony has been appointed trustee for her second three-year term. Meanwhile, Carol Potter has resigned as a trustee.

Committee chairs were also appointed:

  • Simon Crowther, Audit and Finance Committee
  • Kevin Stringer, Governance and Audit Committee (third three-year term)
  • Suzanne Tracey, Provider Faculty (third three-year term)
  • Jane Cole, Commissioning Steering Group (first three-year term).

The AGM heard the association made a loss in the year ending June 2020, but was now ‘on the road back to surplus’, Ms Clarke said. The association also decided to continue to hold subscriptions at 2008 levels, with CCAB or equivalent ordinary members paying £65 (£60 if paying by direct debit) for 2020/21.


Delegates mourn valued colleague

The AGM began on a sad note, with HFMA chief executive Mark Knight announcing the death of NHS finance director and former colleague Paul Briddock last week.paul.briddock

Mr Briddock previously held finance director posts at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and between 2014 and 2017 he was policy and technical director at the HFMA.

‘Last week we lost a valued former colleague,’ Mr Knight said. ‘He was a great supporter of the association and in 2018 he was awarded an honorary fellowship in recognition of that. The HFMA sends its deepest condolences to Paul’s family and friends at this sad time.’

HFMA members and former colleagues of Mr Briddock took to the virtual event’s chat box to pass on their sympathy.

Jane Tomkinson wrote: ‘Heart breaking that such a valued and cherished friend and colleague in Paul Briddock is no longer part of the NHS finance community. Sorely missed.’

Andy Ray added: ‘Very sad news. Paul was a great NHS and HFMA supporter, as well as a great person. Will be missed. RIP Paul.’

Past presidents of the HFMA added their condolences. Mark Orchard wrote: ‘Such sad news to hear that we have lost Paul. He was such a good man, and a great colleague. He will be hugely missed.’

And Phil Taylor added: ‘Paul made a very significant contribution to the HFMA and was a good friend to many of us. It is very sad and he will be greatly missed.’