The West Midlands HPMA ran a session this summer called £ and people, led by Mark Axcell, CEO of Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust. Mark is a Director of Finance by background with numerous years’ experience working within the NHS. Mark designed and delivered an interactive workshop to support HR practitioners to understand and ‘talk Finance’. The session aimed to demystify finance jargon and help the HR community to understand the financial challenges the NHS faces. The session also aimed to focus on getting the most value out of our people, partnering HR and Finance to support organisations and to support HR in having a credible input at Executive and Trust Board level.
The day started with Mark asking delegates to walk through the Financial Times newspaper … literally. Whilst a bit of fun this showed the different perspectives we have on achieving a task and the unique and innovative ways there are of doing this, something we all bring to our roles and enrich our organisations with.
Next delegates were asked to line themselves up in order of length of NHS service, which showed us how much experience and the variety of NHS experience, knowledge and skills was in the room.
Mark shared a case study of a 19-year-old rugby player called Matt King who through a sports injury became paraplegic. The group were asked to don three different hats:
1. Finance manager
3. HR manager
The cost of care and number of services involved in caring for this individual was in the hundreds of thousands of pounds and we were asked to score the value of treating him.
Maybe not surprisingly the group scored this case as relatively low for finance and HR use of resources and median from a clinical perspective on value. We then watched a video of Matt talking – and the list of things he could not do seemed endless and insurmountable.He could not move, breathe without a ventilator or go anywhere unattended by his support workers. He had to be washed, dressed, fed and trussed up in a corset each morning to stop his back from crumpling. For three months he could not even speak.
But Matt, now 29, confounded everyone’s expectations — even his own — and forged a new life rich in incident, achievement and purpose. His accomplishments have been prodigious. He secured a university place and graduated with a first-class law degree, after which he qualified as a solicitor and gained a job with a top London law firm, specialising in personal injury claims.
Matt became the first paralysed athlete on a ventilator to ski and the first to complete a marathon – in New York, steering his motorised wheelchair through the streets with his chin.
He embarked, too, on a mission to instill hope in others with similarly profound disabilities, becoming an adviser and trustee of several charities and an inspirational public speaker. At just 25, he was awarded an OBE and has written a newly-published memoir.
Knowing what we know now about Matt the group were asked to re-score the value of care given to Matt. It was a unanimous 10 out of 10. This showed us that value can be categorised in many ways but the difference NHS and social care service can make to one individual is priceless.
We talked about the challenges HR practioners face and how we can work across professional boundaries to make a difference and add value.
We spent the end of the day discussing what a CEO looks for in HR and the value we can add and contribute to at Board level and Executive level discussions.
The group identified a range of challenges which are shared by Finance colleagues which has led us to look at how we can have joint discussions with our HFMA colleagues and work more collaboratively.
Mark also sent out a tweet asking NHS professionals to pose questions to the HR community, which identified the number of people across a range of professions who actively want to engage with and work with HR.
Delegates evaluated the event really positively, some of the comments received included:
- Great perspective, enjoyed case studies
- Interesting insight from experienced Finance Director & CEO. Good activities particularly the Matt King one
- Great at insight into the basics of NHS Finance. Excellent context of current financial environment
- Very interesting to see NHS from a different point of view. Encouraged to see that Finance want to engage with HR as we do with them
- Enlightening to see from a different views impact on money in NHS. Looking differently as value added. Very enjoyable & have taken a lot away from this.
Mark Axcell said of the event: “The NHS is a people business – people are our most valued and valuable asset. The HPMA sessions’ aim was highlighting that whilst different professions i.e. clinicians, Finance and HR come at this subject from a different perspective the ultimate goal is still the same – how do we ensure best value for staff and patients. It was great to see HR listing the same challenges that other professions see and the desire to have shared conversations about the challenges we face.”