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Header image for the current page Improving financial reporting for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Improving financial reporting for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

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Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) wanted to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its current financial reporting mechanisms and outputs by adopting a bespoke reporting model with automated dashboards.

NHS Arden & GEM brought together a multidisciplinary team, with expertise in finance and business intelligence, to work collaboratively with the NSFT finance team.

As a result, NSFT now has an automated set of monthly financial reports and dashboards covering budgets, performance and workforce which feeds intelligence to the Board, budget managers and operational teams to underpin robust decision-making at all levels of the Trust.

The challenge

Effective financial reporting is critical to understanding performance, managing resources and demonstrating accountability within any organisation. But, for NHS providers, it also informs all areas of operational management which can improve the quality of care for patients and maximise value for taxpayers.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) supports more than 1.6 million people, with 5,000 staff based in more than 50 locations. The Trust wanted to improve financial and performance reporting outputs by using automation to deliver a bespoke reporting model with a number of key dashboards.

NHS Arden & GEM was engaged to deliver the project, working in partnership with the NSFT finance team, over a four month period.

Our approach

Arden & GEM brought together a multidisciplinary team comprising members of the finance department, with experience of working across all parts of the health and care system, and Power BI experts.

Collaborative working
The Arden & GEM project team – which initially included five members – worked in close collaboration with senior finance representatives from NSFT to review current reporting mechanisms and confirm the desired outputs. This included a detailed project scope to set out the core reporting functionality, including:

The partnership approach enabled issues to be identified and swiftly rectified, using the following engagement process:

Building on temporary improvements
While the project was ongoing a temporary workaround was developed in Microsoft Excel, by Arden & GEM’s finance team, to create bespoke BI reports which enabled NSFT to produce their monthly finance report in an accurate and more efficient way.

Dashboard development
The project team developed a set of bespoke dashboards, designed to enable NSFT to explore their finance reporting interactively. The dashboards were created in Power BI, allowing NSFT to slice and filter the data any way they requested, for example, by cost centre or care group.

The outcomes

The following core performance dashboards were created, with the ability for users to filter by balance sheet, income and reserves:

Further workforce reporting in the challenging area of temporary staffing tracked qualified and unqualified temporary staff (funded, worked and contracted WTE) in order to estimate vacancy rates.

Financial performance was also tracked for inpatient wards and out of trust (OOT) acute and specialist placements. While financial risk could be better managed through tracking:

As a result, NSFT now has an automated set of monthly financial reports and dashboards covering budgets, performance and workforce which feeds intelligence to the Board, budget managers and operational teams to underpin robust decision-making at all levels of the Trust.

"The CSU team that we engaged to support us on this piece of work were extremely professional, responsive and engaged in what we were looking for. The team effectively set up a bespoke reporting model from which we could develop our Integrated Quality & Performance Report (IQPR) within the Trust’s data warehouse. The IQPR is essentially a Trust-wide performance tool which draws together all of the metrics across our operational areas/HR/Finance and Quality to present a complete one stop oversight across our performance from local level up to Board level.

The CSU were very supportive in this piece of work and we have now adapted much of the report functionality they set up into our monthly financial reporting to budget managers and operational teams.

Even with a slight change in the specification of the work originally commissioned, due to changing objectives, they continued to be engaging and overall our interactions with them were extremely positive."

Kathryn Walsh, Deputy Director of Finance at NHS Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

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