Building four strengths for NHS finance professionals

22 Sep 16

Amid funding pressures across the service, NHS Future-Focused Finance has developed a ‘four strengths’ framework to help finance teams and staff members develop their skills

With the NHS under considerable financial pressure, the service’s finance staff are in need of an even broader skillset to meet the challenges head on. To help, Future-Focused Finance has launched a new skills framework – the ‘four strengths’ – to help teams discuss and develop their professional capabilities. 

The idea was to create a simple, memorable and time-saving framework which consists of ‘four strengths’: I’m a finance expert, I’m a team player, I drive value and I make change happenAll four have been developed in consultation with NHS finance staff and are aimed at being challenging personal statements that apply to employees at all levels of NHS finance.

The initiative is designed to unite all corners of NHS finance – from clinical commissioning groups to provider trusts. It is intended to be a comprehensive tool to help professionals at ground level develop their skills throughout the year, rather than just at annual appraisals and reviews. If you speak to most NHS finance professionals, a consistent approach to staff appraisals and development plans has been missing for some time. It makes sense for those working in CCGs and in trusts to be reviewed in exactly the same way, under exactly the same headings. But at the moment that’s not happening and, as we are increasingly encouraged to partner across organisations, a consistent language should surely help?

Rather than replace those organisational procedures that are currently in place, the ‘four strengths’ framework will sit alongside them. They provide a basis for discussion to help identify areas that individuals need to strengthen. Most of the staff we spoke to conceded that the existing NHS finance competency frameworks are good, but that the materials spend most of the time on office shelves – perhaps being brought out once a year. That’s a trend we’re aiming to change.  

All four of the strengths are common goals across the NHS finance profession and work for different types and levels of finance staff. Each strength has been carefully considered by key financial leaders of the NHS (including the members of the financial leadership council) and are seen to be crucial attributes that we need as modern finance professionals within the NHS.

To support the launch, we surveyed nearly 350 people working in NHS finance to make sure the framework is representative of their experiences. Over two thirds (71%) of the respondents thought the concept was a good idea, with the new, consistent language being a particular advantage. This goes to show that this support is needed. It also emphasises the essential technical expertise in finance, for which there much development support, is only one of the strengths finance professionals need.

We envisage the ‘four strengths’ will go a long way to redressing the balance – providing a memorable and consistent set of categories that can be used throughout the NHS and that they will be a useful tool for finance teams across the country.

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