February 23, 2024

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FCI on the brink as closing down becomes an increasingly likely option

3 min read

The Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI) has told its members that it will likely have to be closed down and cease operations due to severe financial and other pressures.

In a newsletter sent out to members last Friday (24 November), the FCI said the closing down of the Faculty is a strong possibility because “the Trustee Board does not currently believe [staying afloat] is a viable option due to the extensive governance, and finance resource gaps”.

The FCI explained that working group volunteers and new trustees, respectively, have been investigating the inherited financial situation of the Faculty in what it described as “a challenging and time-consuming process due to limited financial management processes in place and the existing document management structure”.

Key documents such as contracts cannot be found, access to the Faculty’s bank account is still with former trustees and staff, and previous management accounting information is sparse. “None of this is any one person’s fault but is the situation in which we now find ourselves”, the FCI explained to members.

With “reasonable certainty”, the Faculty concluded that the financial position is such that the year-end forecast for financial year ending 31 December 2023 is “very tight with just a few thousand pounds left in the bank”.

The FCI has also “not met and still does not meet the expected standards of charity internal financial control” and therefore various options are being looked at with careful consideration.

The Trustee Board currently believes that the most viable and pragmatic option is to progress a managed closed down of the Faculty. This means an elective and planned close of the Faculty, taking three to six months, with no 2024 membership subscriptions being collected.

The FCI says it would still deliver the FedIP education materials as planned that are underway already until the closure date and recognise that if it was to progress with a close down, there would potentially be some contract disentangling.

With staying afloat seen by the Faculty as not a viable option, merging with another similar charity has been considered, but the Trustee Board feel this is unlikely to be acceptable to other organisations given the potential of further liabilities that would be inherited.

The Board also view the default option, if other options fail, as being subject to an insolvent closedown as there is no confirmed funding source or resource and systematic fundraising.

The newsletter states that these options are being worked through by the trustees and volunteers in preparation for the rescheduled AGM in December.

A turbulent last six months

This is just the latest news in what has been a turbulent second half of 2023 for the FCI. Back in July, the Faculty was warned by a founding member that it must take urgent steps to address its financial crisis and may already be insolvent.

Shortly after, one FCI senior figure and former council member described the situation as akin to a ‘Greek tragedy’ and urged members to take control of their professional body following a series of bitter internal power struggles.

The end of August then saw members of the FCI pass a motion of no confidence in the leadership of the Board of Trustees at an extraordinary general meeting and narrowly pass a motion calling for the removal of Bill Morgan.

Recently, the FCI has been wracked by a further round of resignation of trustees, triggered by the ongoing crisis, deep disagreements between factions and deep disquiet among some members about growing ties to Accenture and Palantir.

The Board of Trustees concluded its email newsletter to members: “We recognise that this is likely to be a very difficult story to hear: we are all members of our Faculty for a reason, believing our nascent profession must develop to meet the needs of the UK and international increasingly digitalised and data-driven healthcare sector.

“The events of the last 6-8 months and beyond have clearly jeopardised that via the Faculty; extraordinarily disappointing for our professional community.”

The FCI confirmed that there will be an opportunity at the annual scientific conference this week to hear suggestions from members in order to progress the profession to meet the needs of digitalised healthcare, as well as via a new monitored Q&A site on MyFCI.

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