The figures, published last month by the high-level NHS executive, revealed that there had been a huge rise in CIMA members employed by the NHS over the last five years, from 380 to 817. Of students currently working in the NHS, 47% are studying with CIMA. The figures will come as a blow to CIPFA, which has struggled to stem CIMA’s emergence in the public sector. A poll of CIPFA members showed overwhelming support for a merger with CIMA in November. Judy Finn, CIMA’s project manager for technical services, said the institute’s expansion in the NHS was down to NHS finance managers demanding commercial accounting skills in a more business-minded NHS. A spokeswoman for the institute said it would target the NHS in 1999: ‘We have identified the National Health Service and will be targeting it over the next 12 months.’ CIPFA, however, dismissed the threat from CIMA. A spokeswoman said it had 15,000 qualified members in the NHS and 1,500 students. TThe issue is that the CIPFA qualification remains a gold standard for the public sector, especially in the crossover between local government and social services,’ she said.
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