HFMA Awards 2019: deputy finance director
12 December 2019
Having joined Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust in July 2018, new deputy director of finance Eva Horgan – and the 2019 HFMA Deputy Finance Director of the Year – had an immediate impact with a restructuring of the finance team.
Although difficult for all involved, she was fair, compassionate but determined to shape the department into the right structure for the future – giving the finance team confidence in her and her leadership.
At the same time, as part of a ‘right size’ project, she undertook a comprehensive review of demand, capacity and workforce to underpin the 2019/20 budget-setting process. Although operational support was limited, Ms Horgan (pictured) took ownership of the project from the outset, engaging with clinicians and key leaders to build a bottom-up picture of the landscape going forward. This led to the establishment of a credible position that divisions could fully support while remaining within the trust’s financial control total.
To add to the challenges during the year, the financial ledgers were migrated before Ms Horgan’s first year-end. However, this was managed carefully, ensuring minimum disruption to the integrity of data – the trust’s audit committee noted that outputs were robust, year-end deadlines met and the audit outcome positive.
Ms Horgan also worked on the service transfer of the genetics laboratories to a neighbouring trust. It was a complicated transfer requiring support from a number of disciplines, but was achieved successfully at the most appropriate time and was fully ready.
She also provided key support in the development of the trust’s neonatal partnership with Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, working across organisational boundaries to help bring the business case to a reality within limited funding.
Making the nomination for the award, trust finance director Jenny Hannon said Ms Horgan’s credibility and influence extended across the wider senior management team and with clinicians.
She said Ms Horgan was ‘not afraid to offer opinion or simply take the lead when other areas of my portfolio are demanding’, adding: ‘I know that Eva will secure the best possible solutions. She is talented and determined, but will always seek advice when required.’
Ms Horgan said the team restructure was difficult. ‘But it got us to the right place in terms of being able to support the clinical teams,’ she said. Clinical engagement was vital, she added. ‘I am always very conscious of their time and the fact that I am potentially taking them away from their clinical duties. But if we don’t do it, we won’t move forward. We have to work collaboratively and I always aim to ensure I’m prepared and bring something to the table.’
The judges applauded Ms Horgan’s calm approach. ‘This, along with her commitment and energy in always trying to improve performance, has meant she has achieved a huge amount of positive change in the finance team and the trust,’ they said.
‘We were particularly impressed with the long list of improvements she has made in such a short period of time and the respect she has, not only in the finance team but in the wider trust and particularly with clinicians.’
Download our HFMA Awards 2019 supplement here
Gareth Lawrence joined St Helen’s and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in May 2018 and re-energised the trust’s cost improvement programme. Although the trust had a good record on achieving cost improvement programmes (CIPs), Mr Lawrence helped to improve on this – taking the average £13.3m achieved since 2015/16 up to £15m (3.8%) in 2018/19. Considering opportunities for 2019/20 earlier than in previous years has led to further improvements this year. As part of this new approach, Mr Lawrence has established a 95% challenge – with care groups considering the best way to spend 95% of funds rather than looking for marginal savings. Mr Lawrence has also supported improvement in procurement and reference cost performance.
Helen Wells, deputy finance director at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust since 2016, was described by her finance director Mike Burns as an ‘outstanding leader’ who has helped the trust to continue to meet its operational and financial targets. Achievements include the integration of the trust’s finance and procurement functions into one team. This joined up approach has improved understanding of different roles and facilitated cross-cover as required. The creation of joint posts with another trust for procurement could lead to an innovative solution locally for difficult-to-resource areas. Ms Wells has also recently taken on responsibility for the informatics function.