Incoming HFMA chair Barry Elliott is a man used to political hotspots. Since joining the NHS in 1983 - he spent his early career in local government - he has worked in a number of areas inextricably associated with newspaper headlines.

In 1985, he became unit general manager of Westminster and St Stephen's Hospitals - the centre of a famous reconfiguration battle.

And, following spells in regional health authorities, he has been finance director of Barts and the London trust since 1992.

'I guess I am used to dealing with this sort of situation, ' he says of Bart's. 'And it is very good to see the end result. Whatever anybody says, Chelsea and Westminster is a fantastic hospital and there is no comparison with the facilities we had at Westminster Children's Hospital.

'So it is nice to ride through the opposition and see something come out of it. I guess that is what I want to see at Whitechapel.'

The HFMA has been through a number of changes in the past two years, clarifying its relationship with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and widening its membership.

Mr Elliott sees his chairmanship as a period for consolidation. He also thinks it will be driven by wider issues - such as the NHS's financial situation.

Despite his recent experience, he says finance staff are 'increasingly concerned' about the position and it will be 'an important issue for us professionally' to make sure information is passed on 'in an appropriate way'.

He identifies as other key issues for finance staff controls assurance and working out how to encourage and account for clinical networks. He also wants the HFMA to look at supporting staff displaced by mergers or forced out by organisational failures.

'Skilled staff are being displaced from the system and there is nothing there for them, ' he says.

'We talk about the family of finance and therefore we should act like a family and provide support for people in these situations.'