Could some of our college students cut the NHS budget?

South Tyneside College
South Tyneside College
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The decision-making skills of a group of students were tested as they were asked to slash £24million from a fictional hospital trust budget.

The team from South Tyneside College took part in a challenge launched by the Chartered Institute of Public and Finance Accountancy (CIPFA) - the professional body for public finance workers.

South Tyneside College's student business team with, back row, fourth left, George Clark, of CIPFA North East

South Tyneside College's student business team with, back row, fourth left, George Clark, of CIPFA North East

Along with students from four North East sixth forms, they faced numerous hurdles set by CIPFA in a day-long challenge at the college.

Playing the parts of senior management, such as chief executive and finance director, they had to evaluate how their cost-cutting would impact on local health services.

In doing so, they were faced with the concerns of an MP, an irate union official, and representatives of HM Treasury and a local Clinical Commissioning Group – parts played by CIPFA members.

The session provided insight into issues facing public sector organisations, developed team and individual skills, and introduced the students to public sector accountancy and to CIPFA’s work.

The test was not about number crunching, it was much more to do with evaluating the difficulties that any one decision will make to services and to the people who rely on them.

George Clark

George Clark, of CIPFA North East, said: “Although this was a fictitious scenario, it reflected the type of challenges those working in the public sector face.

“The test was not about number crunching, it was much more to do with evaluating the difficulties that any one decision will make to services and to the people who rely on them.

“It was a very challenging test and gave the students a real idea of what life is like in the workplace, of leadership and organisational skills, and of the important work that CIPFA does.”