Gayle Wells, Strategic Head of Financial Management at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, is at the heart of future-proofing finance roles within the English National Health Services (NHS). She connects her fellow accountants to see the bigger picture and support each other within the Future-Focused Finance network.
A network of accountants?
When you think of an accountant, you think of grey-suited man crunching numbers. This couldn’t be further from what I do!
Since 2014, I’ve become one of over 500 ‘Value Makers’ within the English NHS’s Future-Focused Finance (FFF) program. The Value Maker network is an organic, almost grassroots initiative. When the network was still finding its feet, I volunteered to take part, using my own connections and social media. We saw tremendous growth and we found that finance professionals needed this network. They wanted to connect to share problems and understand the larger context in which they worked. My activities within the Future-Focused Finance program are now central to my tasks at work.
Value Makers form a network for us to learn about, and prepare for, the NHS’s digitised future and how this will dramatically change the nature of our roles as accountants in the NHS. It’s a place where the younger generation, the future professionals, can see that accountants us their skills to be an integral part of change and progress.
Supporting the next generation
The Value Makers network exists almost entirely virtually via Twitter, emails and phone calls with a handful of face-to-face meetings throughout the year. It’s capable of fully supporting the NHS to engage with strategic themes, such as digitisation and future skills, greater workplace diversity and cross-departmental engagement.
Enlarging our advisory capacity
Our roles as accountants within the NHS are still largely transactional, but this is rapidly changing. As new technology becomes integrated throughout our functions and processes, we will need to be more advisory. We will need to transition into being financial advisors, looking at how money is best spent. We will help NHS clinical staff create more accurate, forward-looking policies and financial strategies. Value Makers will be drivers of this change, providing a knowledge network, a resource to support collaboration.
For example, when I hire junior staff, I’m already thinking about the skills they need to be ready for digitisation. But how do I find candidates with the right profile and skills? I turn to the Value Maker network. They provide insight, down to the right job description to go in the job ad.
Even in these seemingly small examples, I’m supporting the FFF’s goals, I’m making change happen.