HFMA reveals rise in NHS financial management activity

1 Mar 16

More NHS finance staff are working on financial management activities, a review by the Healthcare Financial Management Association has found.

This demonstrates the finance profession’s increasingly strategic role across the health service, the HFMA said.

The body's examination of the work of the 16,211 finance staff working in the NHS undertaken with NHS Finance Skills Development found a majority work in financial management roles (53%), a three-point increase from the last report in 2013. Financial management duties include financial planning, management accounting and performance measurement, as well as commissioning and contracting.

Of the remainder, around 27% of staff work in financial accounting roles, across accounts payable and receivable, and treasury functions, while 18% work in financial services, including audit and payroll, according to the review, which was based on a return from all NHS organisations.

HFMA director of policy Paul Briddock said the report highlighted the changing responsibilities of the 16,211 finance staff working in the NHS in order to support the service at a time of increasing demand. Overall, the number of finance staff has increased by 3% from 2013.

“The need for talented finance staff to help their organisations to deliver high-quality services with restricted financial resources has never been higher,” he stated.

“In the midst of these significant financial pressures, those working in the NHS finance function are dedicated and ready to meet the challenges head on.

“We’re going to rely heavily on finance directors and their teams to see the NHS through the current financial challenges so the key now is to keep the most skilled people in the service and keep them motivated.”

The report also included a survey of 526 finance staff from across the NHS in England, which found staff had an average job satisfaction rating of 6.7 out of 10, and the majority (71%) said the public sector values of the NHS keep them motivated. Asked what would most improve the value added by the finance team, 60% of staff polled said there was a need for better communication between finance and non-finance staff to improve the understanding of the role of the function.

Briddock highlighted that, since the survey was conducted, the financial position had deteriorated, with a nine-month financial deficit standing at £2.3bn.

“NHS finance staff are continuing to face challenges as they grapple with managing tight financial settlements while trying to add value to patient care,” he said.

“Now more than ever finance professionals will need to support each other. There has always been a strong sense of community across all levels of the NHS finance function, which will become even more important with the tightening of belts and as collaboration moves to the top of the agenda with the aim of making a sustainable and fit-for-future NHS."

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