NHS Hero Paul – keeping finances in check

After being offered a secondment opportunity in 2007 to lead the finance team of a new NHS Trust for Dudley and Walsall, Paul Chamberlain (57) subsequently played an important part in the creation of Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMH) as we know it today.

Paul, who lives in Walsall, began his career in the NHS 35 years ago, when he started as an accountancy trainee for Walsall Health Authority in 1984.

“I studied Economics at University and I wanted a career where I would be able to put my degree to use. Accountancy seemed to fit the bill!” said Paul.

He now works as the head of financial planning at DWMH, which involves developing, negotiating and implementing the financial aspects of the Trust’s NHS contracts. It’s also Paul’s responsibility to monitor the Trust’s financial position and performance, as well as supporting the development of new services.

“My role is very varied from day-to-day, but my aim is always to ensure that the Trust achieves its financial targets. This is so important, as it enables us to offer services to the public which are continuously developing and improving.

Paul continued: “I work closely with service managers, and it is brilliant to see how our progression makes a real difference to patient care. Some recent examples would be Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), perinatal community service, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Paul has had many career highlights during his 35 years in the NHS, but he still remembers the feeling when Walsall’s first walk-in centre opened in 1998, which he managed the finances for. In addition, he established the first ward budgets for Bloxwich Hospital, when the very first older adult inpatient beds were introduced.

“I have seen many changes to healthcare around Dudley and Walsall during my career, and it makes me proud to look back at everything I have been involved in, and see that there have been so many developments.”

In 2015, Paul was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the West Midlands branch of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. A year later, the finance team won Finance Team of the Year in the same awards.

“It’s a great feeling to be recognised both individually and as a team. They are really memorable moments for me!” smiled Paul.

Paul’s next big challenge will be to bring together the financial systems of DWMH and Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, as the two trusts merge to become one organisation by next year.

In his spare time, Paul plays golf and loves to watch cricket. He also supports Aston Villa, as well as being the mini soccer coordinator for the Walsall Junior Youth Football League!

So who is Paul’s hero?

“To pick one ‘hero’ would impossible, but I salute the service managers who work with finance to maximise benefits for patients and staff,” said Paul.

Paul’s mental health message: “Let’s take every opportunity to enhance and maximise a positive impact on mental health services.”