Future Focused Finance July update

04-07-2016

The Future-Focused Finance (FFF) initiative has agreed nine key priorities that it will seek to address during 2016/17. The priorities are all designed to have a measurable impact on the performance of NHS finance teams and their clinical colleagues as we seek to address the efficiency challenge that is currently evident across the service.

The agreed priorities are detailed below.

We will seek to promote the uptake of the FFF decision effectiveness toolkit within an improved NHS planning system. This work will be led by Caroline Clarke’s Best Possible Value team. As part of the work a wholesale review of the NHS planning process is being undertaken in collaboration with our colleagues at HFMA. While it will not fall to FFF to redesign the planning system, the output from a series of workshops and round-table events will be shared with NHS England and NHS Improvement before they start writing the 2017 guidance. Running alongside this, we will continue to promote the decision effectiveness toolkit that was developed and made available to the service in 2015.

We will also seek to improve the efficiency of NHS finance departments, by investigating the feasibility of developing a clearing house for intra-NHS financial transactions through undertaking a small-scale pilot with a number of organisations in the London area. Work to develop a strategic outline business case for this pilot is already underway, under the guidance of Suzanne Tracey and her colleagues in the Efficient Processes & Systems action area.

Within Sanjay Agrawal’s Close Partnering action area, we will be seeking to facilitate and engender clinical, finance and citizen engagement in reducing waste and delivering high value care. We will do this through a number of measures, including: working with professional groups to build awareness, to mobilise knowledge and to identify specific areas of focus; learning from national and international experience; and, working with the National Institute for Health Research and the NHS R&D Forum on the reduction of waste in research.

Close Partnering will also be focusing on increasing the level of clinicians’ knowledge of NHS finance and financial management by increasing the number of active finance and clinical educators and the amount of free training material available for use.

We will be promoting meaningful development discussions for finance staff by rolling-out and promoting the ‘Four Strengths’ framework that has been drawn up by the Skills and Strengths action area delivery group.

The key priority, amongst many, for the Great Place to Work action area is to develop the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) / Finance Director (FD) ‘pipeline’ by ensuring that there is a network for aspirant CFOs / FDs; a support framework in place for existing CFOs / FDs, especially those who are new to the role; and increased gender, ethnic and disability diversity amongst future CFOs / FDs.

We will also be undertaking three pieces of work within the FFF central team to support the programme as a whole. We will seek to improve the FFF communications structure to ensure that messages from all six action areas are professionally and appropriately communicated. We will work to gain a full understanding of the networks supporting FFF and to measure and improve their maturity and effectiveness. Finally, we will develop an FFF accreditation ‘kite mark’, to set out clearly what arrangements the Finance Leadership Council (FLC) – which heads up FFF – expects CFOs / FDs to have in place to ensure that they can adequately discharge their professional responsibility to develop their organisation’s finance function and the staff within that function.

The FLC believes that each of the above measures will have a demonstrable impact on NHS finance or will help to improve FFF’s focus, as it seeks to deliver on its aim of Making People Count by ensuring that everyone connected with NHS finance can influence decision making, in support of high-quality patient services.

More details on all of the above can be found on the FFF website and by following us on Twitter @nhsFFF.
This update was written for CIPFA by David Ellcock, Programme Director, Future-Focused Finance