HFMA Awards 2019 – finance team
12 December 2019
This year’s Finance Team of the Year is the finance team for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups. Four CCGs – Fareham and Gosport; North Hampshire; North East Hampshire and Farnham; and South Eastern Hampshire – established a partnership in April 2017 to improve effectiveness and reduce duplication. They were joined a year later by the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group.
With a single executive team appointed, the challenge to the finance team was to embrace new ways of working as one team, despite the CCG finance teams being located in different offices up to 60 miles apart including a physical separation by the Solent.
The process began with a focus on financial governance and assurance, with authorisation levels and procedures standardised across the partnership. Joint standing financial instructions were agreed and duplication was reduced by producing one partnership finance and performance report and by individual finance colleagues supporting partnership-wide departments such as strategy and transformation.
Finance leads were established with partnership-wide responsibilities. For example, there was a finance lead for year-end reporting, aligning assumptions on accounting treatment to ensure consistency.
Producing standard year-end reports and accounts created numerous challenges, but the teams worked together holding regular meetings. All CCGs submitted 2018/19 reports and accounts on time with unqualified audit opinions. Activities such as this fostered a spirit of openness, increased by the sharing of financial performance and through working together to achieve financial targets.
With a wealth of experience and knowledge, the challenge was to work more efficiently and effectively getting the best possible value from limited resources. Accountability increased through sharing ideas and best practice leading to increased trust between colleagues both within and outside the finance department.
Partnership-wide corporate cost budgets and structures have been established creating opportunities to work together and identify savings. Standardised budget reports are produced and finance staff increasingly work on a functional basis across more than one CCG. For example, in primary care finance a shared post exists between two CCGs.
Staff development has been key to bringing the teams together. There have been a number of away days, regular meetings are held and colleagues are encouraged to work at different locations and use technology such as Skype. Two finance trainees have also been appointed as pan-partnership posts.
Partnership chief operating officer, Roshan Patel, said that bringing different team cultures together was a key challenge. ‘The key was establishing one set of values, principles and clear objectives.’ Director of finance, Jane Cole, said the end result was the creation of a unified group. ‘We share responsibility and take joint accountability and we are very clearly one team working in one NHS.’
The judges praised the way that the separate departments had matured in a short period of time to become a single team serving five organisations. ‘Through resilience and depth in skills, the consolidated team has been able to demonstrate a high level of trust, balancing the competing pressures of organisational loyalty, sovereign responsibilities and system-wide benefits,’ they said. ‘They have used technology to facilitate effective working across a dispersed geographical area that covers the mainland and the island.’
Download our HFMA Awards 2019 supplement here
Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust has faced significant change over the last year with the announcement in October 2018 that community services would be divested. These services, valued at £100m, represent 40% of the trust’s business and include dental, child health and community district nursing across four localities. The transactions were phased over 2019/20 at different stages, requiring a new plan and accounts closedown at each quarter – all while 16% of finance staff transferred to new organisations. In addition, the trust improved its financial position, implemented a new ledger system and achieved finance skills development accreditation.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust’s finance team has continued to support key achievements, including a record surplus and a use of resources score of 1. It led a complex due diligence process for the transfer of community services to the trust, involving the TUPE transfer of 1,000 staff. It has also reviewed standing financial instructions, with a summary for users, and taken part in a trust-wide SFI awareness campaign.
The finance team at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust put building blocks in place for good financial management of the balance sheet – revamping the balance sheet and educating non-clinical staff to understand core financial statements. It also created a cash management report showing the current position and a series of metrics and early warning signs. The trust moved from 8% better payment practice code performance to over 90%.