Finance training to keep NHS finances healthy

Paul Briddock, of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, discusses the benefits of training and development on NHS finance for health professionals

It’s no secret as to the pressure NHS finance teams are under, and in the midst of a difficult winter, the service is under extreme scrutiny. For some time, finance directors have warned about the impact the current financial situation would have on the quality of services, and it’s no longer just a financial problem but a sector-wide issue. Longer waiting times, overcrowded hospitals and missed targets across the UK have been red flags of the decline in the service for patients. In order to alleviate the pressure and ultimately reverse the situation, making sure the whole NHS workforce has an understanding of the financial background will be key.

Due to the size of the challenge, it’s essential the sector educate every member of staff working in healthcare to help appreciate the impact of the financial challenges ahead. Finance staff at all levels should be financially literate, but the education of general management, clinicians, nurses, GPs, practice managers, other healthcare professionals and non-executive directors will go a long way to ease the sometimes conflicting pressures. The efficiencies the service is looking to make are not just for finance teams alone, by opening up finance education sector-wide, a greater understanding will be achieved across the board and change may be swifter.

Training staff in the basics of NHS finance, the current picture and the job in hand, will help contribute to a better understanding of how this impacts everyone’s daily roles and patient care in general. In addition it means clinicians will have the background and skills to implement their part of the plans relating to sustainability and transformation at ground level.

Developing better understanding will in turn improve the relationship between clinical and non-clinical staff. Finance professionals face a difficult task and it’s important the sector recognises the enormous job they have in considering the financial implications of every single clinical decision that is made in the NHS. Non-clinical staff may not directly save lives, but the clinicians who do require their expertise and seamless support. For our finance teams it is about developing their training so it is tailored and bespoke to today’s NHS. This is in addition to broader, more industry based accountancy and finance training.

It is well known that the NHS takes CPD seriously, and through training and qualifications, staff are encouraged to improve performance as well as career prospects. Offering key learning opportunities is important to help get the best out of people. It helps them to feel valued, invested in and confident of the job they are doing.

Ultimately, creating an informed and united workforce will help take NHS finance in the direction we need it to go. In order for health professionals at ground level to implement the plans set in place to provide savings, we need to provide them with the knowledge to understand the challenging financial climate, and how the situation can be turned around. Only by continuing to invest in the NHS workforce will we be able to tackle the difficult challenges in the year ahead and ensure the long term stability of today’s health service.

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