EoE Academy Board Blog: Steven Course

Hello, I’m Steven Course (him/he), and I am the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) Executive Director of Finance.  I entered the NHS through the National Financial Management Graduate Training Scheme which afforded me a broad range of developmental opportunities to further my career.  I was Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Deputy CEO at East London NHS Foundation Trust prior to joining Norfolk and Waveney ICB in July 2022.  East London NHS Foundation Trust fostered a Quality Improvement Culture which gave me an insight and valuable experience into how all staff in the NHS community can work collaboratively towards improvement and more importantly use it as a way of working.  I witnessed some incredible projects that really improved the lives of patients, service users, populations and staff that then become standard practice.

Alongside my formal training I also had access to some very talented individuals in finance and the wider NHS who supported my career, challenged my thinking, and ensured I maximised the opportunities that came my way.  Since then, I have always tried to reciprocate the energy and kindness these individuals offered me by doing my utmost to help develop others as at all levels within the NHS to maximise their potential.

I am now the East of England lead for the Finance Innovation Forum where we collect, peer-review and share innovative solutions to problems in NHS Finance.  What has struck me over my 20+ year NHS career regarding innovation are 2 things. Firstly, as a group of finance professionals we are often more innovative than we think – we problem solve on a daily basis, we are presented with challenges that we find different ways to resolve and overcome but what we don’t often do is share our success.  Secondly, the problems we face are, more often than not, shared by somebody else – they are not unique.

My aim as the lead for innovation is to encourage our community to not hide their lights under a bushel but to share their innovations more widely.  The word innovation can in itself needlessly be a barrier at times, we often think of our solutions to problems as “just the day job” or “it’s what we do”, and that’s fantastic but I can imagine someone, somewhere else in the NHS Finance community is at the start of their problem solving journey for that very same issue and wouldn’t it be great to be able to learn from others who have been there before?  We all continue to learn and educate each other in our teams and the innovation forum is another way we can do that for the wider NHS finance community.

You can use our guide to learn how submit innovations and once submitted we peer review each idea in 3 cohorts (February, June and October).  You can even become a peer reviewer – what a great way to learn about innovation first hand! We encourage every NHS Finance team in the country to submit innovations to the Innovation Programme, we also want to hear about the problems you face as the finance innovation board has resources available and will try to help find a solution.  We already have a library of NHS Finance Innovation ideas but we want this to grow and become a rich source of innovation for others to foster.  It would be great to see more of the innovations from the East of England being submitted and shared.

Innovation just means a new method or idea, it doesn’t have to be technical or leading edge, it just needs to demonstrate how it was used to overcome a problem or challenge.  We innovate all the time in finance, often at pace and without realising we have done something different.  So please take a moment to reflect and think about those issues you’ve resolved individually and in your teams, and put them forward for submission as I can almost guarantee if it was a problem for you, it will be a problem for someone else.