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Challenging times need positivity and innovation from NHS staff

I was interested to read this article recently: We bean counters need to speak out about NHS cuts. No doubt, this is a challenging time for the NHS and it’s a tough place for the finance function to be in as we are often seen as the ones bringing the gloomy message, but by working together with all our colleagues I feel that we can ensure that patient care is the best that it can be.

I have nearly 30 years’ experience of working in NHS finance and this isn’t the only tough time we have faced. With major organisational change comes challenges but we’re working within a political system that we cannot influence; rather than commenting on the political agenda (whether we feel it’s good or bad) we need to focus on doing the best we can for patients at all times – and make sure that everyone understands that is what we are doing.

In response to the current financial situation a national work programme, Future-Focused Finance: Making People Count, has been set up to look how finance teams across the NHS can work better together to make sure we’re fit for the future.

Despite the difficult financial situation there is an overwhelming enthusiasm and support for the programme which has three strategic themes and six action areas. I’m really excited to be part of Future-Focused Finance, of which I’m leading the Great Place to Work action area. Other action areas include: best possible value, efficient systems and processes, close partnering, skills and strengths, and foundations for sustained improvement.

Since the latest NHS restructure in 2013 we could be in danger of a fragmented health care system. The NHS has CCG’s commissioning most health care services, many different providers (like hospitals, community trusts and social enterprises) delivering care, NHS England commissioning primary care and specialist services, Commissioning Support Units too; the list goes on. So if we’re not careful finance staff could end up working in silos. Collectively we need to work better together and with clinical colleagues to share experiences across the health sector to make the best use of the finite resources we have. 

Us ‘bean counters’ no longer sit in offices away from clinicians; we’re working closely with them all the time. I do think that there was a time when we used to talk a different language but now it’s clear that whatever your discipline, if your values are the same then it doesn’t matter if you’re an accountant or doctor or any other type of healthcare worker by background, we can – and do - make a real and positive difference to patient care together.

 

 

 

 

 

Cathy Kennedy
Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Financial Officer
Senior responsible officer Great Place to Work, Future-Focused Finance

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