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Why I'm happy my job is disappearing

By Stephen Sutcliffe, Director of Finance & Accounting, NHS Shared Business Services

Stephen Sutcliffe Stephen tells us why he's happy to find out his job is "doomed".

I'm an accountant by background and training. It may not be the world's most glamorous job, but I rather like it. A lot of my friends are accountants too.

So far, none of those friends are plastic, and I don't think any of them have circuit boards inside them. Which is a bit surprising, because according to www.willrobotstakemyjob.com, old-fashioned flesh and blood accountants like us are obsolete. "Doomed" is the word they use. There's a 94% probability that within six years, a robot will be doing my job.


The simple fact is, robots are better than humans at quite a few things. Processing numbers is one. And although the word "robot" conjures up Asimovian visions of plastic and metal androids, the smart algorithms in your phone are a great example of robots at work. Hardly the stuff nightmares are made of.

At NHS Shared Business Services, our mission is to generate £1 billion of cost savings to the NHS by 2020. Unless we make more and better use of robots and automation, we won't be able to achieve that. So we're investing in innovation. Over the next few months, we'll be rolling out the following:

  • A payroll+  app for NHS staff
  • A new planning, budgeting and forecasting tool for NHS trusts
  • A new procure to pay digital marketplace with a retail look and feel - Edge4Health
  • A more efficient and streamlined supplier data management system
  • And many more.


This emphasis on AI and automation doesn't mean I get to twiddle my thumbs. Quite the reverse. By freeing people up to do what people do best - creative thinking, problem solving and so on - we'll be able to bring a unique combination of automated processes and human creativity to the market. Some of that human insight and creativity is already evident in things like our operational procurement service, which has so far made £8.8 million of savings for our clients and the VAT insights we offer, which has resulted in savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds in just a few months.

People and technology are a powerful combination. My job has become richer and more fulfilling as technology has become more powerful. All we need to do is learn and adapt to working together. And if all else fails, www.willrobotstakemyjob.com tells me we can become Preschool Teachers (0.74% chance of automation), Animal Trainers (10% chance of automation) or Make-Up Artists (1% chance of automation).

We hope you'll appreciate some of the new products and services we'll be rolling out. We would genuinely value your input and feedback. Email sbs.nhsbsbinfo@nhs.net, tweet me at @sasutty or find me on LinkedIN.

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