Back to blogs

HFMA, SDN & ONF Eastern Branch Annual Conference Review | Tom Ripley

Posted on March 2023

two male recruiters at conference
Tom Ripley, our Client Solutions Manager, reflects on the HFMA, SDN & ONF Eastern Branch annual conference and the current climate in the NHS market.

It’s a little over a week on since the HFMA, SDN & ONF Eastern Branch annual conference for 2023 at Wyboston Lakes and what a fantastic couple of days it was. This was our second year attending the event as a sponsor and it’s safe to say it won’t be our last.

There was a real buzz to the two-day in-person part of the conference, with more than 150 NHS Finance professionals from across the East of England all gathered under one roof. We were inundated with visitors to our stand across the two days with all sorts of perspectives discussed on the challenges of the NHS Finance recruitment market in the last twelve months and what expectations are for this coming year.

It was a fairly common theme that 2022 proved to be both challenging and frustrating for most in both sourcing and retaining key staff. Opportunities across the sector were rife and the candidate market for both interim and permanent appointments struggled to keep pace with demand. In order to recruit high-quality candidates NHS organisations were having to think outside of the box, and the seemingly ever-present topics of previous NHS working experience and office presence continue to add another facet to the thinking.

In the early stages of 2023, the noises coming out of the conference suggest that the level of requirements may have steadied slightly, likely owing to multiple factors: the economic climate and ongoing uncertainty around structuring of ICBs certainly being two of them.

Away from recruitment a moment, there were some excellent talks throughout the conference. From a personal perspective, I particularly enjoyed the discussion around innovation within each of the six systems in the region. A couple of the examples, I’m not ashamed to admit, went over my head (I’ve never claimed to be technical or an accountant!) but what I found most poignant was those that had made significant differences to their outputs by making relatively small changes to their day-to-day processes. 

The Eastern Branch awards were a fabulous celebration of high achievers across the region with awards given out for Student of the Year, Champion of Diversity and Team Player of the Year. We had the honour of sponsoring the Finance Team of the Year and were delighted to see East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT win the award with HFMA badges all-round! And a big congratulations to all those shortlisted and of course the winners.

The only sour note from the event was my contribution to the quiz during the gala dinner and for that, I can only apologise to my table! Clearly my knowledge of 80’s pop culture and former Health secretaries needs some work.

It is always our privilege to attend these events and see first-hand the commitment of finance professionals to progress best practice in their field. We greatly enjoy supporting this sector and are proud of our reputation as a trusted supplier.

Should you wish to discuss your recruitment requirements, please contact Tom Ripley on 07800 938 683 or email