In conversation with:


Andy Hardy, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire

What does your job involve and how does being a Chief Executive differ from being a director of finance?

My job is Chief Executive of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire which means I have overall accountability for the running of two hospitals - the University Hospital in Coventry and the Hospital of Saint Cross in Rugby. I’m accountable for that to the Secretary of State and we are monitored by our regulator, NHS Improvement, to check we do the best we can do for our patients and to ensure that it's done with good governance and provides good value for money. It's also very important in terms of the staff, we have 8,500 members of staff and we want this to be a good place to work. 

There are two principal differences in being a Chief Executive. One is that the spotlight is increased on you as an individual. So what you say, what you don't say, how you say things and your body language are under much more scrutiny. What you choose to do or don't do in terms of meetings you go to, whether it’s internal or external is much more scrutinised. 

Secondly people, particularly those who are external to the organisation, think you know everything about the organisation. So you could be in a meeting and someone might ask “Do you know what happened in ward 20 last Friday afternoon?” Well of course you can't possibly know everything that goes on and I have to be honest with people about that. 

I suppose the final thing is that you are seen as an ambassador for the organisation - I think they are the three big differences.

What are your proudest professional moments?

Two spring to mind, firstly when I first became a Chief Finance Officer (CFO) I was very proud of the senior team I put in place. The team consisted of four associate directors - two have gone on to be CFOs themselves and the other two haven’t become CFOs only because it's not what they wanted to do. I think a key job as a leader is to get great people around you and form great teams, that was a great team and I think that was reflected in the two that did become CFO's.

Secondly, being appointed into the role I’m in now and being six years in now as CEO. It's very important to me that I’m a working for a hospital that serves a population from which I come - I was born in the neighbouring town and I live there now. I see this as a public service to my community, so I’m very proud of that.

What are the biggest challenges facing leaders in the NHS?

I think there are a number of massive challenges facing leaders in the NHS at the moment. We have ever-increasing expectations by the public and rightly so. That’s against a backdrop of technology and innovation which means we can develop more things for people who are ill and need our services but that there is also the factor of there being a finite level of resources. This makes me ask “How do we make sure we do the best we can with every pound of public money?”

We are facing ever-increasing workforce challenges. How do we make sure we've got the right workforce, not just numbers but the right skills in place constantly? As we change models of care, the nature of the workforce will change so I ask “How do we make sure people have skills that are interchangeable and can change over time?”

Thirdly, of course is politics. We're all public servants, so how do we both serve our politicians but also at the same time be in a position where we can challenge them about what is actually right or wrong in the health service and what can and can't be done?

How can CIPFA support NHS finance professionals in these challenging times?

Professional bodies have an important role to play in these times. One of the great things about being a finance professional is that we have values, disciplines and standards; we have so much to offer the NHS when we bring those aspects. One thing that CIPFA can do is to really support individuals if they are going through times where they feel that they are being moved to positions where they have to compromise on some of those things. CIPFA can be a voice for the profession saying that those things cannot be compromised – this is important for the good of the public that we serve.

What do you hope to achieve as the new health and integration faculty Board Chair?

I think that as has been witnessed by the new STP initial plans one of the things we've got to do better as a health service and working alongside social care is work better together. Integration is key to that and is possible without changing organisations. We have got to be effective in every pound we use as I mentioned earlier, we know we are inefficient at many of our touch points between organisations, both within health and within social care and then right across that border. Throughout the country there are some fantastic examples and one of the things that I really hope to do as part of the Board is look at ‘what great looks like’ and see how we can spread that across the NHS and social care.