Assistant Finance Manager, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

What benefits did attending this year’s conference have on you and your development?

Having the opportunity to access a wealth of knowledge form more experienced Finance representatives from a variety of Trusts gave me a priceless insight in to how others have developed their careers and passion for NHS Finance. It gave me the confirmation I needed to pursue a longer term career within the NHs Finance industry and allowed me to hear once hand what opportunities can be accessed such as the One NHS Finance, SDN, HFMA etc and how these are all free to access yet do not get enough credit or representation within individual Trusts. It was also invaluable to hear form the main players in the Finance industry for healthcare outside of the NHs as well as those such as SBs that I use every day in my current role; it is always the case that my Trust blame SBS and other systems but I found out quite easily that we do not pay for or do not have access to the newer and upgraded systems and being able to meet with them and explain our problems as a Trust meant that quite a few things are now on their way to being resolved because there was no middle conversation between the Trust and the service.

What were your 3 main take aways from the conference?

1. The NHS Finance industry is a very small place! Having started in NHS Finance only last year, it became apparent that I knew so many people already and had plenty to talk about as people move around different Trusts quite quickly yet share knowledge which is amazing and really brings together the idea of ONE NHS ‘working as one’.

2. HFMA and other bodies hold a wealth of information and can really enhance your career getting involved with these; I think I will look out for more opportunities going forward now to attend and come outside of the workplace because even though it was only 3 days outside of work, it has allowed me to really get a better understanding of what I do by talking to others about how other Trusts do things differently and what advantages or disadvantages differing methods can achieve. 3. Never leave on bad terms (not that I have ever have and hope not to ever do), having met about 5 people who gave me this piece of information and pulls into my first point of the NHS being such a small place in terms of Finance; someone from a completely different part of the country I had collaborated with in a research trial without realising and they recognised me by name. Alongside this,

3 people who used to work for a previous Trust of mine had heard good things about me so if good news can spread so easily, I am sure worse news or publicity can spread even faster. This can impact recruitment and just goes to show why you should always stay professional no matter what the environment is.

How did the conference contribute to your professional network?

I have utilised additional outside tools such as LinkedIn and a lot of people were happy to connect on these other platforms. It meant that I have expanded my outreach and can now see more opportunities and ongoings within the NHS field; giving me better career prospects as it is usually ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you know’!

What were the benefits of the buddy arrangements?

The buddy arrangement was helpful, although mine did not attend until Thursday afternoon, it was good to know that there was always someone there if I was ever unsure or did not know anyone (although I met a few people at the reception drinks whom I spent Thursday and Friday with too). The buddy gave me some great information and answered a lot of queries that I had.

What could we do to help better support the winners before and during the conference in the future?

I think it would be good to introduce the group chat on WhatsApp a bit earlier after confirming places of winners. I think the group was invaluable and reassuring for things like what to wear, where people are meeting and this made a lot of people who were on their own feel more included however I felt it could have been utilised a bit earlier so people can discuss what they might pack before going to the conference etc but this was only a suggestion in my opinion.

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