Innovation

Innovation and rapid changes to ways of working within Finance and across the NHS have been at the centre of the response to Covid-19. There was a sudden switch to new digital ways of working widely across the NHS, with a huge expansion of video and online consultations, as well as video conferencing largely replacing physical meetings and events. Here we share and celebrate some of the innovative and new ways of working that our finance teams have introduced during the pandemic.

Starting a new role during the pandemic

Amy Denning started a new role in April 2020 at the beginning of lockdown, which at first was very challenging in the new working from home environment. There were a number of new starters at the trust as well as role changes in the department during the pandemic. The team at Airedale have reflected on what has worked well for them over the last few months and what they would like to introduce going forward. They have created a list of the suggestions to help others who are recruiting / starting new roles in these unusual times.

Julia Gray secured a new role working at NHS England and NHS Improvement during lockdown and has been working from home and online since her induction. Hear about her experience of starting a new role during lockdown by watching the video to the right.

Virtual finance training at Gloucester Hospitals NHS FT

Gloucester Hospitals Finance Team took their finance training virtual during the pandemic, they wanted to make sure their was still access for training for those who wanted it even if this could not be done face to face.

End of Year Accounts at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT

Not only have finance teams had to personally deal with the pressures of the pandemic; and when at work adapt to abrupt new ways of working; they also had to submit year end accounts! Andy Lehain, James Balls and Simon Oliver from ESNEFT talk us through their experiences of delivering on year end during these unprecedented times.

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Virtual development day at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT

The finance department at ESNEFT had a traditional away day planned for their staff development, however the impact of Covid-19 meant that they had to cancel it as other processes became a priority such as staff safety and changing to working remotely. After some time had gone by and the department had become accustomed to the new ways of working, they felt that the development day was still important to run in some capacity. They decided to organise this to be ran virtually on MS Teams.

Virtual trust induction and training – Mersey Care NHF FT

Sarah Millward and Robyn Gillgannon both started at Mersey Care during the pandemic. Starting any new job can be daunting but having to do learn the ropes and go through all the training virtually was a new experience for both Robyn and Sarah. Despite initial anxieties, they both have had very positive experiences of their virtual trust inductions and training.

Natalie Hooper and her team at the trust inducted Robyn and Sarah into their team during the pandemic virtually. They set up new systems and procedures to make the new starters feel as welcome as possible. ‘Virtual induction and training during this difficult time was made easy as I have a really great team who supported the process, and we all worked together to successfully welcome our new starters to the family.’

(pictured Tom Mitchell, Specialist Financial Analyst, The Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ Costing Team with their PPE Consumables Forecaster)

Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ new forecasting tool helped estimate PPE requirements

During the early stages of the pandemic, finance staff at the trust volunteered to support their supplies colleagues to make sure clinical areas were fully stocked with PPE. Tom Mitchell, who is a part of the Patient Level Costing team, says, “It quickly became apparent that our ‘mastery of all things spreadsheets’ would prove invaluable with analysing and making sense of PPE usage, how it varies with patient numbers and evolving guidance, and what requirements might look like in the future.   We were initially tasked with compiling masses of daily stock issues data, and connected this to current Covid-19 patient numbers. From this, our ‘PPE Analyser’ tool was born to help understand the impact of the virus on a broad range of consumables. Then, as the trust began to consider how to safely restart services, we used our accumulated knowledge of stock and activity levels to create a ‘Forecasting’ tool. This estimated the PPE requirements across different operational areas, to see if we could safely accommodate projected increases in patient numbers when services opened. We also shared this tool and our learning with another local trust. More recently it has evolved to provide our Deputy Chief Medical Officer and his team with daily updates of stock levels and how long these will last, based on current usage information. It has flagged potential shortfalls at an early stage and allowed for appropriate action, escalation and alternative planning to take place.   It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to witness how these tools have been received and their impact throughout our organisation, and how we as finance professionals have been able help to keep the NHS going through these exceptional times by ‘doing our bit’.”