Profile – Patrick McGahon, Cumbria TEC

Patrick McGahon is not a number, he’s the new finance director at Cumbria Training & Enterprise council. Currently the director of finance and contracting with Cumbria Ambulance Service NHS trust, the 32-year-old will take up the post in September.

First exposed to the public sector as a sixth-former, 32-year-old McGahon secured a Cumbria county council accountancy bursary in 1984. Spurred on by his experiences there, he took finance to heart and qualified with the council as a CIPFA accountant in 1991. McGahon feels the public sector has increasingly ‘moved to a more business-like ethos’. On joining, he found the Cumbria Ambulance NHS trust in major financial difficulties. He worked ‘to achieve a holistic approach’, convinced that the finance function had to take a lead in linking the organisation’s different departments.

‘Over an 18-month period of intense negotiations and internal restructuring, the trust for the first time achieved its financial targets in 1996/1997,’ he says.

Studying re-organisation within the public sector for his PhD, McGahon sees Cumbria TEC’s reputation for ‘lax’ accounting as a challenge rather than a problem. ‘I shall draw on lessons learned from corporate governance work to ensure a “tight” regime operates within Cumbria TEC.’ Having led the NHS trust’s year-2000 preparations, he will use a similar approach to that adopted by the NHS. ‘I will focus upon compliance of Cumbria TEC and suppliers’ systems, testing and contingency planning.’

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