West Midlands NHS trust implements specialist capital accounting solution

Implementation helps meet IFRS requirements and improve financial reporting

Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust has selected Real Asset Management’s (RAM) IFRS-compliant capital accounting solution to improve the management and control of its asset base worth £86m.

The best-of-breed system will replace its current spreadsheet based process, as recommended by auditors, which had become not only too onerous and time consuming to manage, but also lacked the necessary financial reporting required to confidently meet IFRS requirements and those of the Department of Health Group Manual for Accounts.

With an annual turnover of £373m, the trust serves a population of 1.1 million people and is one of the biggest integrated health and social care providers in the UK. It offers health and social care to adults in Staffordshire through integrated local care teams and provides care across the community with specialist services such as sexual health, dental care and a range of children’s services.

Already used by more than 200 NHS trusts across the UK, the decision to implement RAM’s centralised solution was made simple due to its reputation as a proven and functionally-rich software system designed specifically to meet all NHS accounting requirements.

Paul Matthew, head of financial accounting at the trust, said: “Its reputation across the industry preceded itself, but it was also the user-friendly and highly-configurable nature of the software which sealed the deal.”

Following its move to NHS Shared Business Services in 2013, the trust will be using RAM’s capital accounting solution alongside its finance system, Oracle Financials, in order to record and track its 500-plus capitalised assets, which consist largely of buildings, land, furniture, IT and medical equipment.

Matthew said: “We had reached a stage where our assets were being managed on a mammoth spreadsheet more than 100 columns wide. Practically, this was proving to be an extremely-arduous task, which was prone to error, but, more crucially, didn’t provide an acceptable level of forecasting for budget preparation and audit purposes.

“What would typically take me two days at year-end to reconcile and close the accounts will take no more than one hour going forward with the use of RAM’s software and I anticipate a big improvement in the overall visibility and accountability of our asset base. Having the ability to drill down and analyse assets at individual level as well as being able to access a full audit trail at the click of a button will provide huge time and cost efficiencies.”

The new system will now enable the finance team to quickly and easily process revaluations and to automatically calculate depreciation/capital charges and all reserve movements with a supporting audit trail. It will also provide the facility to generate month-end journals for instant upload into the finance system and allow the trust to access a comprehensive suite of financial reports including the Fixed Asset Note to the Accounts.

Matthew said: “Reporting was a key requirement in our search for a new solution and RAM’s software fully supports our necessarily complex reporting processes. We will now have a greater understanding of thet overall financial status and be able to provide both management and auditors with a wide range of IFRS compliant reports quickly and easily.”

The trust has opted to implement a hosted version of RAM’s software in line with its current business strategy. It is already utilising hosted/cloud based services where possible, allowing it to focus on core competencies.

Currently in the implementation phase, the system is due to go live next month.