March 5, 2024

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FCI founding fellow warns clinical informatics body faces insolvency

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The chair and trustees of the Faculty of Clinical informatics have been warned by a founding member that the FCI must take urgent steps to address its financial crisis and may already be insolvent. 

The risk of a collapse was denied by FCI CEO Ken Mackness in a Tuesday email exchange with Digital Health News. 

However, in an open letter sent today and shared with Digital Health News, clinical informatics academic Prof Angus Wallace, a founding member of the FCI warns ahead of a crunch meeting, “As charity trustees you are all liable for the financial stability of the FCI” and continues, “I am seriously concerned about the current financial situation of the FCI”. 

Prof Wallace says that he understands the financial position of the FCI has sharply deteriorated over the past two years, after failing to secure a renewal of its grant from Health Education England.  

“I understand that the Total Funds held by FCI have now dropped from £284,394 (in December 2021) to approximately £40,000 at present.”  The FCI says this figure is inaccurate and that at 30 June it had £56,000. 

FCI, which has previously relied on a £350,000 annual grant from Health Education England and annual membership fees, which have already been collected for 2023, is thought to have no realistic prospect of new revenue until 2024 while facing liabilities it cannot meet, it has already had to cut all staff other than the CEO.    

Ahead of the open letter being published, Mackness on Tuesday told Digital Health News that the FCI was solvent and not about to collapse: “With regards funding the FCI has a membership subscription and consultancy income, which means regardless of if it received NHSE money or not it will survive and deliver its member benefits well into the future, so there is no danger of any imminent collapse or it not being able to continue in the short term.” 

Prof Wallace notes: “Apart from the chief executive, I understand there are now no other staff employed by the FCI. The CEO may therefore no longer be providing a “service to its members” for the remainder of this year.” 

The FCI employs a chief executive, whose salary and overheads are estimated at a total of £100k per year. Wallace notes: “If he remains in post until October, funds of approximately £25k will be required.” 

The FCI’s Annual Scientific Conference also now looks unviable, creating a further liability, Prof Wallace warns.  

“It is now likely that the Annual Scientific Conference scheduled for November 2023 may no longer be financially viable. If it is cancelled, I understand it will incur a cancellation charge of £35k.” 

He goes on to conclude: “If this information is accurate, it means the FCI is close to insolvency or is already insolvent.”   

He recommends that the Trustees urgently appoint an insolvency consultant, cancel the Annual Scientific Conference and send a “Serious Incident Report” now to the Charity Commission, with “main categories of reportable incident” being “significant financial loss”.

Following the publication of Prof Wallace’s open letter The FCI provided Digital Health News with a statement on finances: “Although there is likely to be minimal income for the remainder of this year (2023), our cash flow projections take this into account in assessing our ability over the next 12 months to pay our debts as they fall due.”

On the annual conference it added: “The Faculty is looking forward to its upcoming Annual Scientific Conference in Manchester which it expects to be a great success. Nevertheless, the worst-case outcome has been budgeted for in our financial forecasts.”

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