Annual round up by the National Programme Director
As I once again reflect on the year and draft my annual round-up for the December edition of ESR News, it is with great pride that I am able to reference key highlights from what has been an extraordinary year for us all.
First and foremost, I would like to express thanks to all NHS organisations for your continued commitment to embracing the ESR service – as I reference later in this article, growth in ESR usage has been staggering.
I would also like to thank IBM, our technology and service partner, and colleagues within the NHSBSA ESR team, who together, have maintained a high quality service – indeed, possibly more relevant than anytime previously, it is worth reminding ourselves that ESR remains one of the World’s largest and most complex HR Management solutions and service, and this has been successfully delivered under business continuity arrangements since March 2020.
I am delighted to provide a spotlight on…
ESR System Usage
NHS organisations have continued to embrace the functionality within ESR and realise many of the associated efficiency and productivity benefits. We report growth across a range of areas, but two of the key user metrics are:
- Employee Self-Service usage:
- The total number of users has increased by 15% - reflecting growth from 1.37m unique users in December 2019 to over 1.57m unique users in November 2020.
- Monthly usage has increased by 18% - reflecting growth from over 827k unique users per month in December 2019 to over 979k unique users in November 2020.
- Access to online payslips:
- Employees who no longer receive a paper payslip has increased by over 67% - reflecting growth from over 1.03m employee payslips in December 2019 to over 1.7m employee payslips in November 2020.
If you haven’t already looked at our helpful resources for switching to online payslips please visit the ESR Hub; additionally, there is a thought provoking video that demonstrates the environmental impact of paper payslips - it’s worth a watch (if I may say so!) and illustrates how individual organisation or employee decisions can have a material impact when we consider the scale of the NHS.
Consistent with previous years, we have continued to work with policy colleagues and users of the service to enhance the functionality within ESR. In addition to changes made to support the COVID response, a small number of examples include:
- Developments to the applicant dashboard so as to further support on-boarding – more on this later;
- Additional automation to the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process when a new applicant is created;
- Conflict of Interest recording and reporting capability (designed in partnership with NHS England/Improvement), and
- Introducing enhanced interface technologies in the form of Application Programming Interface (APIs), so as to further support system interoperability.
As noted earlier, ESR remains one of the largest and most complex systems of its kind in the World – reflecting both the scale and complexity of the NHS and terms and conditions of service.
ESR has many Key Performance Indicators, including payment accuracy and payment timeliness – both of which have been consistently achieved throughout the year. Whilst I fully appreciate there have been a small number of system issues and unplanned service unavailability – something that the ESR Service teams work hard to avoid and/or minimise, the overarching achievement of such KPIs in normal working conditions is testament to the hard work and effort that goes in to delivering such a complex service, but when we overlay the unprecedented conditions introduced by COVID, this really is a sterling example of service discipline…and of course, ultimately, this has ensured NHS employees have continued to be paid on time, accurately - as is to be expected.
How NHSBSA supported the NHS during the pandemic
Consistent with many organisations, NHSBSA has been instrumental in stepping up services to support the NHS as we manage the greatest public health challenge in a generation.
Gordon Coyne, NHSBSA Director of NHS Workforce Services, was asked to lead the NHSX People Cell, in collaboration with colleagues from many partner organisations, to explore how existing or new services could be developed to help the NHS deliver care in the ever-changing and challenging environment. Gordon comments:
Over 25 services were established or enhanced via digital solutions as a result of working together with colleagues from DHSC, NHS E&I, NHSX, NHS Digital, Health Education England and through regional teams supporting the NHS and Adult Social Care workforces, facilitating recruitment, staff engagement, well-being and workforce planning. I hope that the relationships built during this difficult time will enable sustainable improvements to be delivered as we seek to transform our NHSBSA workforce solutions over the next few years.
As the national workforce system for England and Wales it was vital that ESR functionality could help and support Trusts manage some of the workforce related issues. Developments included the provision of enhanced absence reports – both local reporting and relieving the burden on local organisations to submit nationally, to enhancing absence reasons in ESR to record COVID and related data. Many other changes and services were provided to alleviate local pressure, or support national activity – including directly supporting the Nightingale Hospital set-up through the provision of workforce data. Such activity is a great example of how national systems and services can support both a national and local response – whilst helping local organisations focus on the delivery of care.
Recognising the impact of the pandemic on the daily operations of the NHS we launched the ESR COVID-19 Resource Hub in April 2020. This Resource Hub is tailored to support employees, managers and corporate teams with helpful fact sheets and simple step-by-step guides.
To date, the Resource Hub has been accessed over 467k times since its launch, and if you have not already done so, I would encourage you to take a look to see how it might help you.
ESR supporting National Workforce Policy
During the year we have continued to support the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and be a key delivery partner to the NHS England / NHS Improvement Enabling Staff Movement programme.
One area of functionality that is helping Trusts to improve the experience of their staff is the ESR Applicant Dashboard. This has been a real game changer in some regions, where Trusts have used the dashboard to quickly recruit to large numbers of clinical vacancies during the pandemic.
In September we featured an article in ESR News about how Trusts in the North East and Yorkshire had given applicants early access to the Applicant Dashboard to speed up the induction process, ensuring that new staff had undertaken all the necessary e-Learning before starting work on the wards. In recent months we have seen continued interest in the Application Dashboard with more Trusts using the functionality. The Applicant Dashboard gives organisations the ability to engage with their applicants at the earliest stage, by enabling applicants to update their personal information and complete any required training before their start date.
As referenced earlier, as part of our work to further support the Enabling Staff Movement programme we have progressed the development of enhanced interface technologies (Application Programming Interfaces – ‘APIs’) to support the Digital Staff Passport project; and have also developed an ESR New Starter Journey for Doctors in Training (DiT). The New Starter Journey is designed to outline a simple 10-step process for all new starters, describing how to use the ESR solution to its maximum potential, thereby helping organisations provide the best experience for their new starters.
To further streamline this process for DiT we are working in partnership with colleagues in Health Education England to develop a bi-directional interface between ESR and the Training Information System (TIS), providing the ability to seamlessly transfer data. You can read more about this project in this edition of ESR News and you can access all of our Enabling Staff Movement resources, including a new DiT checklist by visiting http://www.discover.esr.nhs.uk/nhs-people-plan.
In July NHS England published the ‘We are the NHS: People Plan 2020/21 - action for us all’. Building on the interim People Plan it sets out actions to support transformation across the whole NHS, with one of the objectives to overhaul recruitment and promotion practices across the NHS.
By providing functionality that enables staff to easily move from one NHS organisation to another, ESR can support NHS organisations to meet the challenge of having a more mobile, flexible and agile workforce. This supports recruitment for Doctors in Training as well as wider NHS recruitment by:
- Enabling a more robust new starter process with reduced repeated administration;
- Enabling employment records to be updated online instead of using paper forms;
- Having an on-boarding process that is efficient and actively managed; and
- Having previous training and skills records recognised and transferred.
If you would like to explore how ESR can help you to deliver parts of the NHS People Plan, please read our response to the NHS People Plan paper or talk to your Regional Functional Account Manager.
Future Planning…Transformation of ESR Services
The ESR Service has been in operation since 2004, with all organisations having implemented by April 2008. ESR remains critical to the delivery of NHS Pay and HR management and policy. Following a recent technology and application review – including market feedback, a strategy has been agreed that enables a programme of transformation discovery to be completed. In order to deliver this programme, the ESR service contract with IBM has recently been extended to August-2025, so as to safeguard the ESR service whilst we undertake the following:
- ESR Discovery – this discovery project will assess the ongoing and future needs of the ESR service. Planned to start in late January 2021 and run for circa 12-16 weeks, this discovery will seek user and stakeholder feedback so as to provide a baseline of requirements to take forward.
- Alpha and Beta stages – using the discovery findings, an assessment of technology and application options will be undertaken. Planned to start in spring 2021 and be completed no later than summer 2022, this activity will seek to identify a best fit solution that meets the needs of the NHS and emerging integrated care policies.
- Service Commission – depending on the outcome of the Alpha and Beta stages, a period of two-years has been planned, from summer 2022 to summer 2024 to ensure all contracts are in place to enable planning for the transition and transformation of service by August 2025 and beyond.
In addition, you may be aware that NHS England/ NHS Improvement are in the process of progressing an ‘Integrated ERP Discovery’ – exploring opportunities and benefits of having greater integration between HR and Finance systems. NHSBSA is supporting this review, and the findings (due to report early 2021) may also inform the ESR Discovery and future service requirements.
At this stage, we do not know what solution or solutions will be identified as most suitable and therefore detailed activity beyond 2024 is yet to be confirmed. However, there remains a clear commitment to the delivery of service that best meets user and policy needs. To this end, ESR will continue to be developed and we look forward to working with users of the service and policy colleagues to identify and maximise solution requirements and developments.
Thanks and Best Wishes…
Finally, I hope that you find this December edition of ESR News interesting and on behalf of the NHSBSA and the ESR Service teams, may I express our thanks for all of your support throughout 2020, and wish you a Merry Christmas and offer Best Wishes for a healthy and happy 2021.
The NHSBSA Workforce Service Directorate launches ESR Optimisation
Across all regions in England NHS organisations are working with their NHS ESR regional Functional Account Manager to maximise their use of ESR functionality to enable them to realise both the strategic and operational benefits that ESR can bring to an organisation.
With many years’ experience of working with NHS organisations, we understand that the pressures of todays’ NHS can mean that for many organisations implementation projects can sometimes be hard to get started.
Shortages of resources or system knowledge are two of the reasons why ESR functionality is not fully used. For many NHS organisations it’s a question of resources that can prevent them from moving forward with their use of ESR.
The NHS People Plan 2020/2021 highlights the new challenges COVID-19 has presented, and it reinforces the need for transformation now more than ever. NHS organisations have a responsibility towards their people to continue to look after them, train them, and grow the workforce and work together differently to deliver patient care. Optimum use of Workforce services and systems such as ESR can support NHS organisations to do this.
To support NHS organisations to deliver the commitments in the NHS People Plan and to maximise their use of workforce solutions provided by the NHSBSA, the NHSBSA is launching an additional level of support for NHS organisations - ESR Optimisation.
How it will work
Using ESR Annual Assessment data coupled with the extensive knowledge of their organisations our NHS ESR regional teams will be engaging directly with NHS organisations that have committed to an ESR implementation project, specifically relating to Learning Management or Manager Self Service to discuss the option of setting up an ESR Optimisation project. Once an ESR Optimisation project has been agreed the NHS ESR Functional Account Manager will oversee the project commencement and support the organisation through to successful completion.
A new team of Optimisation Leads and project support roles within NHSBSA’s Workforce Services Directorate are being made available specifically to enable us to offer this additional project support, initially until March 2022.
We’ll get to know your organisation’s needs
A dedicated team of experts including your NHS ESR Functional Account Manager, ESR Implementation Advisor and a new resource of NHSBSA Optimisation Leads will work with you to understand how ESR Optimisation can support you to successfully deliver ESR projects.
Whether its project management expertise or specialist technical ESR help required, ESR Optimisation will be able to help you.
We assist the transformation
Our objective is to help your organisation realise the benefits and efficiencies that ESR can give you. We will equip you with the tools needed to optimise recruitment and HR processes, empower your managers and improve workforce planning.
Our expert technical help and interim resource boost will empower your organisation to get the most out of ESR, the system that you rely on.
We prepare you for the future
Before project closure, we will make sure your organisation has the system knowledge and skills needed to hit the ground running and continue transforming without us.
We’ve piloted this
In recent months we have been working with a small number of NHS organisations to pilot ESR Optimisation. We have worked with First Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Airedale NHS Trust, the Royal Free NHS Trust and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust.
The Isle of Wight were our first pilot project. We supported them to complete their Learning Management and Manager Self Service projects, after experiencing a number of issues and delays. You can read about their experiences of being the first to road test ESR Optimisation in this edition of ESR News. There is also an article in this months’ ESR News about how ESR Optimisation helped the Royal Free NHS Trust.
Robotics Process Automation (RPA) - game-changing technology
RPA has the potential to be game-changing technology, improving productivity and increasing process efficiency and satisfaction. At the NHSBSA we are on a journey to understand how and where to introduce RPA to best effect, beginning with ESR - our first RPA pilot.
Since October 2020 NHSBSA’s new RPA “bot” has processed over 31,000 items previously handled by the ESR Systems Integration Team, allowing them to focus on more complicated requests and to provide advice and support to User Organisations.
Robotics Process Automation (RPA) which mimics human interactions, inputs and decisions by automating the repetitive, manual tasks performed by staff, is now reaping significant benefits for the ESR Systems Integration Team. For example, the “bot” is now: -
- Adding/removing URPs from user accounts
- Suppressing P45s and/or terminating assignments
- Adding/updating appraisals
- Adding/updating supervisors
- Updating ESR hierarchy
The introduction of unattended “bots”, operating 24/7, has so far reduced processing time from 62 to 13 days, saving time and resource, and resulting in a faster turnaround for requests.
The impact on the ESR Systems Integration Team workload has highlighted that there could be many areas of work across the wider NHS which could benefit from RPA. With your help we would like to gather information to help us look at the potential of expanding a centrally run robotics offering beyond NHSBSA services to NHS ESR users, dealing with repetitive manual processes that are time consuming and costly.
Please contact your ESR Regional Functional Account Manager if you have suggestions for how you could get the most from ESR using RPA.
If you want to have a more general discussion about RPA and how it could benefit your organisation, contact:
Ivan Barber, NHSBSA RPA Programme/Project Manager Ivan.Barber@nhs.net, 07769 742 508.
ESR Supporting the Covid-19 Digital Staff Passport
The COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport is a solution, currently in private beta stage, which enables the secure transfer of identity, employment and clearance information for staff that are temporarily deployed to support the COVID-19 response. The COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport provides a solid legal framework for staff and bank workers to be deployed into other NHS organisations and streamlines and speeds up the sharing of information, allowing staff to move promptly and with ease. The information is transferred securely by the staff member through their own smartphone, putting them in control.
Why is it needed?
Traditionally, verifying personal, identity and clearance information for new starters is a time consuming task, which must be completed by each NHS organisation – whether employing an individual on a paid or honorary basis. This has been identified as one of the key areas of necessary improvement when processing temporary new starters during the current pandemic. The concept of a digital staff passport for temporary staff also supports the broader requirements of the Enabling Staff Movement Programme being led by NHS England and NHS Improvement in partnership with NHSX.
How is ESR Supporting the COVID 19 Digital Staff Passport?
ESR supports this digital passport solution using an integration process which links digital systems (called an Application Programming Interface or API).
Information relating to employment checks and position details are available to transfer from the Employing Authority’s ESR system to the Covid-19 Digital Staff Passport, thereby helping to create their employment credential, reducing the manual input and time required to create the credential. The employment credential is issued via a secure digital connection via the Connect.Me app on the staff members own smartphone. At the new organisation the staff member will be invited to make a similar secure digital connection using the app to share their COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport employment credential with their temporary host NHS organisation. The information can only be provided for authorised users at NHS organisations registered with the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport.
The link between ESR and the Covid-19 Digital Staff Passport uses personal data input to the passport system to match ESR details and retrieve the employment checks and position data. This information is then presented to the passport HR user or nominated user. The screens below will show how this functionality is presented in the digital passport portal.
The passport HR user will select the correct assignment and check the information, before making the information available to the passport portal and ultimately, the employment credential available to the new NHS organisation. The new NHS organisation may then swiftly on-board the individual and takes care of local orientation requirements, before they start work.
Please watch this short video to find out more about the Digital Staff Passport and how it works.
How data will be protected?
There are a number of strict controls in place to keep information processed by the Covid-19 Digital Staff Passport safe and secure. This involves NHS organisations agreeing to undertake a number of activities:
- The COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport will require authorisation by the HR Director or nominated deputy, who will register the organisation as the Data Controller for information held within the COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport. They will agree to the Terms and Conditions for the Digital Passport and the ESR API on behalf of their Authority.
- By acceptance of the T&C’s, the Employing Authority is giving permission for this data to flow from ESR and will need to nominate a minimum of 2 local system administrators for the service. These individuals will maintain the digital passport system nominated user records. It is at this stage the link with ESR is activated.
- To use the ‘Search ESR’ link within the passport portal, the nominated user must meet the acceptance criteria i.e. an active ESR record with the Digital Passport Administrator supplementary role allocated to them within the organisation’s ESR system and their ESR employee number recorded in the passport portal itself. This check will be performed each time they use the system.
Once the information for the passport holder is finalised on the passport portal the individual remains in full control of who they share their employment credential with. This means that they can decide who can and cannot access their passport details.
How do NHS organisations get involved?
The COVID-19 Digital Staff Passport is currently in private beta phase with 88 NHS organisations across the England, covering all regions. To find out which organisations are registered or for more information please visit the www.beta.staffpassports.nhs.uk.
Enhancement Update: ESR Streamlined Doctors in Training Interface with TIS
The NHSBSA ESR Team have been working hard with their partners to deliver a suite of improvements and updates to the interface with Health Education England’s (HEE) Trainee Information System (TIS).
The ESR Streamlined Doctors in Training Interface with TIS forms part of NHS England and Improvement’s Enabling Staff Movement Programme objectives, to improve the staff experience as they rotate between different NHS Organisations during the course of their training.
With 183 NHS Organisations across England subscribed to the ESR Streamlined Doctors in Training Interface with TIS and more coming on board every month, technical and functional enhancements have been delivered to Medical Staffing, Recruitment and HR staff across the country.
Given the scale of the interface, enhancements have to be managed carefully, and recentlythe focus has been on improving the Applicant creation process and the Medical Rotation spreadsheet, known as the MEDROT. The enhancements are designed to improve usability and provide the NHS organisation receiving the trainee with more information. There are a number of future enhancements also being considered and these include:
- Addition of a Grade column for current placements.
- Addition of Sub Speciality columns for current and future placements.
- Reformatting of the MEDROT spreadsheet to remove blank rows and unwanted headers to allow for easier filtering and sorting.
Person Update Functionality
The Person Update functionality allows data about employed doctors in training to be synchronised between TIS and ESR. This means that ESR exchanges a wider set of information with TIS, including personal information and address details (amongst others) upon hire. If the information held in TIS is different to that held within ESR, TIS will be updated with the information from ESR.
This new capability makes it even more important for Trusts to maintain their ESR position and person information for Trainee Doctors, as this information will be shared securely outside of ESR. Use of ESR Self Service is a great way to ensure that trainees can maintain their own data, hence Trusts should be taking full advantage of this opportunity and promote the use of Self Service, wherever possible. Trusts are also encouraged to implement and make use of the Applicant dashboard as this is a further opportunity for Trainees to view and update their details at the earliest point in the journey of joining a new employer.
The ESR Person Update functionality became available in TIS from November 2020 with a small proportion of Trusts. Following its soft launch, HEE will continue implementation to achieve full capability early in 2021.
User Support Resources
Following the conclusion of the user communication series - with the Refresh Webinar on 14th December, the user support resources for the interface have undergone a detailed review and consolidation to provide ongoing support as a one-stop-shop for all interface queries.
Users can now find an extensive FAQ document which brings together common questions received during previous communication events and expansion on key areas. This is supplemented by the Implementation Checklist which provides an ‘at-a-glance’ summary of the key activities required prior to implementing the interface.
For those wanting a comprehensive view of the interface and its functionality, the ESR-NHS0111 - Streamlined ESR and Junior Doctor Interface Guide remains available.
All this and more can be found on the ESR Hub. Simply navigate to ‘Explore Resources’ > ‘ESR Functionality Guidance’ > ‘Doctors in Training’ and remember to check back for updates.
NHS ESR Implementation Advisors – the first year
Back in December last year we featured an article about the new NHS ESR Implementation Advisors that had joined the ESR Team. Initially four Implementation Advisors IA) joined our regional teams to support the functional Account Managers; Nelson Boto in the South, Graz Leonowicz in the Midlands and East and Bron Driver and Jess Brooks in the North.
During the first 12 months, the Implementation Advisors have worked with 90 organisations in England, around 23% of the total number of ESR organisations and potentially 531,585 employees will have been positively impacted by their work being involved in 96 projects to date.
The table below shows you how these projects are broken down into the different areas of ESR functionality.
|Annual Leave Assistance
|HTML Coding/Appraisals/PMP Assistance-Implementation
|Full ESR Implementation
Implementation of Manager Self Service at Salisbury NHS FT
In September 2019 Nelson Boto supported Salisbury NHS FT with their implementation of Manager Self Service (MSS). This was due to go live in November and would include 3,500 staff.
Initial discussions to define the project plan highlighted that the Trust had an ambitious timescale for this implementation and understandably the team had doubts that they could meet the target date. However, using his experience of similar projects, Nelson reassured the team that it could be achieved.
To ensure that the implementation plan was kept on track Nelson met with the project implementation team every week. He advised them on hierarchies, possible different types of access, and provided training for the three main ESR MSS functionalities (changing supervisor, changing hours, termination of employment).
With this regular level of activity and guidance from Nelson Manager Self Service was successfully implemented within the established timescale of 40 days.
As the Trust prepared to launch MSS Gary Dawson, Projects and Policy Lead said:
I’d like to thank you for all your hard work over the past few weeks. As you are aware we intend to launch Manager Self Service across the Trust this weekend and you’ve been fundamental in helping us get to this position. Your expertise has clearly prevented us wasting valuable time and you’ve been able to support us to answer a vast number of questions
Expanding the use of OLM, Competencies and BI Reporting at Humber Teaching Hospital NHS FT
Humber Teaching Hospital needed some support with their use of the ESR Learning Management and Jess Brooks worked with the team to expand their Learning Catalogue, Competencies, and associated Business Intelligence reporting.
As some of the duties around reporting and catalogue maintenance were being redistributed between teams, Jess assisted by providing some training sessions and providing support to the Learning Administration Team as they created new courses and Learning Certificates.
In addition, Jess also helped them to map their Recruitment processes, so that they could get the most out of ESR in terms of efficient use of the system, the IAT process, and the Applicant Dashboard.
Describing the contribution that Jess had made to the project Angela Brown, Senior Administrative Assistant, Learning & Development Team said: “Jess was so helpful and fitted me in to her busy schedule within minutes. Jess is always so supportive, encouraging and incredibly knowledgeable, and knowing she is there to support me when in need means the world, I would be well and truly lost without her. Jess made what would have been hours of work and getting it wrong, easier to grasp and completed in no time.”
North Lincolnshire & Goole – Implementing Self Service and OLM
When Bron Driver first joined the ESR team the first organisation she was asked to support was North Lincolnshire and Goole (NLAG) who were embarking on an ambitious programme to roll out Self Service and maximise their use of ESR functionality.
This began with learning management; they previously used an external booking system and manually moved the enrolments into ESR after the event. In order to prepare them for Self Service, their entire training catalogue required cleansing and updating so learners could book directly onto classes in the system.
They then required support with annual leave, setting up accrual plans and making sure the data was accurate prior to go live in April.
Most recently they have started to look at Appraisals in ESR and they have received BI training and moved to national Core Skills Training Framework competencies. Despite the challenges of COVID the work has stayed on course with the help and support of Bron.
Lauren Wilkinson, Training and Development Manager(NLAG), expressed her thanks for Bron’s help and support;
Having support from Bron over the last year has supported the organisational developments and streamlining. Whether it be the cleansing of data during the implementation of Manager Self Service or providing experience and knowledge with particular focus on the Portal, Self Service HR and Learning Management, OLM functionality and also Annual Leave, Bron has been an absolute pleasure to work with.
Bron is always passionate about helping our organisations and shares her wealth of knowledge in ESR ensuring that we maximise the business benefits.
The ESR Implementation Advisor is such an important role. We have wanted to implement functionality quickly in our organisation and sometimes that is difficult when you don’t understand the system, and haven’t got time to research; Bron always points us in the right direction, saving us time.
South Warwickshire NHS FT – Implementing OLM
One of the organisations that Graz has supported in the Midlands and East region is South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, as they felt that they could be using the ESR Learning Management system much more effectively.
Support was provided to ensure that the mass upload spreadsheets provided by the NHS ESR Systems Integration Team were accurately completed when correcting competence requirements and competencies held for employees. In addition, new Learning Certifications were created in line with ESR best practice and auto-enrol was activated.
The work undertaken has ensured that employees are now completing the correct courses and are being awarded the required competencies. This has also led to a significant decrease in the time taken to report on training compliance.
Hayley Fletcher, L&D Lead at south Warwickshire told us:
Graz has been working with myself at SWFT for the last 18 months and has been an absolute asset to the work we have completed in ESR. We have worked together extensively on the National CSTF competencies, enabling us to start the roll out of MSS across the Trust which has been a real positive step forward, and we have had some fab feedback from Manager’s around this.
It is now allowing us to open up conversations with other departments and our Implementation Team to look to implement the Applicant Dashboard and investigate Appraisal and other functionality with ESR going forward.
You never feel like anything is too much trouble and I have felt comfortable and confident to pose any questions to Graz, she always responds as quickly as possible and is always happy to work through any questions and queries I have had.
The NHSBSA ESR Team has recently welcomed three new Implementation Advisors. The team now consists of seven Implementation Advisors across England:
|North of England
|Midlands & East of England
|South of England
If you would like support with an ESR implementation project or could benefit from having the expertise of your regional Implementation Advisor then please contact your NHS ESR Functional Account Manager.
ESR Webinars - your opinion counts
When we run webinars, either regionally or nationally, we are always keen to know if the attendees received what they needed from the session in terms of information and learning. Attendee feedback helps us shape content for future webinars.
In October and November the NHS ESR Team ran a series of ESRBI webinar workshops based on various aspects of report running and report writing within ESRBI. The webinars were very popular and well attended, with two of the webinars being re-run to accommodate the demand. In this article we thought we would share how the feedback from these ESRBI webinars has been used to shape future sessions.
ESRBI Webinar feedback
When delivering webinars we structure content to support as broad a range of experience and abilities as possible, which is reflected well in the graph below - showing the responses to the Intermediate report writing workshop. We would aim for a return of 3 which is midway between easy and difficult. A return of 3 was also the most common return within the basic report running workshop.
The report running workshop was in part aimed at managers or those with responsibilities towards Self Service in ESR. The responses from the basic report running (re-run) webinar below are encouraging.
The aim of any of the NHS ESR webinars is to provide useful content to attendees and the graph below; taken from the Basic Report writer’s workshops, shows we are hopefully delivering content that the majority of attendees find useful or very useful. Across all of the BI webinars the most common return to the question below was 5.
Across all of the webinars we saw an attendance rate of around 60%. It is important that anyone who registers for any ESR webinar, but subsequently is unable to attend should contact the webinar organiser to cancel their registration, as this will free up a space for someone else who may be able to attend. This is really important, as most webinars have a limit to the number of attendees that can take part.
Following feedback received after the initial report running webinar we were able to change the way the sound content was delivered, provided a wider introduction to the event, included a second team member on the webinar in order to answer questions during the event, and reiterated the request for questions in advance of webinars so that content could be tailored in a workshop style format. This led to further questions being submitted which were then addressed during the next webinars and re-runs.
Future Webinars – attendee feedback
The presentation yesterday on BI Basics was very good, professional, informative & easy to follow. I picked up a few bits which I had been fumbling through in the past. The webinars are a great way to educate us in a very engaging way without the travel. Can we have some more please!”
Penny Barnes, Deputy Payroll Services Manager, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.
All the feedback we received has been considered and where we can, will be incorporated into future ESRBI webinars. Areas such as including reporting on payroll based data within ESR, reporting on learning data, a run through of the basic terms and covering briefing book functionality will all at some point be part of a future ESRBI webinar.
Thank you for your continued engagement and feedback.
Improving Data Quality and the ESR e-learning Experience for Employees
A Case Study by Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
With a vision to be the recognised leader in healthcare for women, babies and their families, Liverpool Women’s NHS FT professional team of 1,400 people takes care of more than 50,000 patients from Liverpool, the surrounding areas and across the UK. As well as delivering care within the hospital we work in the heart of the community, providing care for patients at various clinics across the city.
Embarking upon Improving Data Quality
In early 2019 we recognised that we had some significant challenges in relation to the accuracy and completeness of the training data captured and stored within the Electronic Staff Record Learning Management System (ESR LMS). This was leading to poor reporting and subsequently to a lack of confidence and engagement with the ESR LMS from both management teams and colleagues alike.
Individual managers and areas were keeping their own records, which invariably lead to further challenge of the centrally held data.
We undertook our ESR Annual Assessment with our NHS ESR Functional Account Manager, David Bromilow, and this underscored our challenge and helped us to identify a number of gaps in our processes.
The Trust had a clear ambition to drive improved compliance with mandatory training at core, clinical and local levels, but without one centralised system for recording and reporting – one version of the truth. It was proving hard to build momentum and without accurate and complete records it would be difficult to raise the levels of confidence we needed to drive the engagement.
It was a catch 22 – and a challenge to be met!
We took stock – we got a clearer picture about the mandatory training needs across the Trust, at all levels and for all colleagues. We gained clarity on the records held centrally within the ESR LMS, versus those held locally and on paper. It became clear that data already in the system needed cleansing and the system itself rebuilt in many aspects.
We appraised our skill level – we realised we didn’t have an abundance of skill to support the ESR LMS – particularly it’s linkages with our data warehouse and the potential to develop easy to use reporting tools for our managers. We reached out to our regional ESR colleagues and internally to our performance information team and asked them to work with us.
We developed an action plan – armed with clarity of understanding about our starting point, and the support and collaboration of our colleagues, we developed a plan.
The actions needed were too numerous to think about all at once, so we categorised firmly, and set ourselves ambitious but workable timelines at every step.
We identified three members of our team to lead on different aspects of the plan – Jeanette Chalk, our Head of Talent & Culture, acted as Project Manager, keeping us on track and ensuring deadlines were met, Janet Hinde, our Workforce Information Manager, lead on the technical system aspects of the project, and Anne Bridson, our L&D Facilitator, lead on the internal stakeholder involvement – working closely with our clinical educators and subject matter experts (SMEs) - their involvement was crucial at every step.
Sponsorship from Michelle Turner, Chief People Officer, was essential in ensuring we had the necessary support at a senior level, and also in challenging us to innovate and develop wherever possible.
Helen Christophorou: Practice Educator, Maternity Department:
Where we were and where we are now has meant we have made massive strides forward. The interdepartmental working has made a vast improvement with the system.
Our Action Plan
Our key areas of focus included:
Collaboration & Learning
- Introducing monthly meetings with our regional ESR colleagues to raise queries, develop skill and increase our understanding of ESR LMS and its linkages to ESR.
- Participating in regional streamlining events to gain a greater understanding of the Core Skills Training Framework (CSTF) and the importance of assigning the appropriate CSTF competencies on ESR to report on training.
- Upskilling our Workforce Information and L&D teams to grow our understanding and knowledge around the LMS build and development requirements – key building blocks to reaching a successful outcome to our project.
Joe Nightingale: Practice Educator Gynaecology Department:
The work that has taken place has ensured a more streamlined competency framework for the Gynaecology Division, it has ensured the right competencies are assigned to the right staff.
System Building & Developing
- Correcting and creating the competence requirements for each element of mandatory training we needed to store within ESR LMS, whilst removing any incorrect legacy data that was causing confusion to colleagues when viewing their requirements through Self Service.
- Aligning the appropriate CSTF competencies in ESR to the relevant training.
- Swapping paper workbooks for e-Learning packages wherever possible, and ideally for the national e-Learning packages. Where this wasn’t possible, the development of a local e-Learning package was encouraged and the use of another national competence if available. Collaboration with the SME’s was crucial here.
The following courses are now delivered by the national e-Learning available within ESR LMS:
- Health & Safety
- Moving & Handling
- Information Governance
Looking to the future we plan to also deliver the following national e-Learning packages within ESR LMS:
- Safeguarding Adults Level 1 and 2
- Safeguarding Children Level 1 and 2
Data Capture & Inputting
- Developing and introducing clear and concise processes for the submission of training data by managers and/or trainers, including monthly deadlines to ensure reports produced match the data supplied.
- Of particular importance here was ensuring trainers submitted attendance registers for face to face training, and that attendance for study days was broken down into its constituent parts to ensure all elements of the training were captured and reported. Processes to achieve this were tightened.
- As noted above, collaborating with our internal IT colleagues enabled the introduction of reporting through our local Data warehouse solution. This information is now being fed directly from ESR. This solution allows our managers to be able to easily see the overall compliance for their staff at individual, team, departmental or divisional levels.
- This change has now facilitated some significant reduction in the manual manipulation of spreadsheets for reporting purposes – not only creating time for other things, but also reducing the opportunity for human error.
- Introducing validation sessions with departmental educators, working with them to improve the accuracy of training requirements for every role across the Trust - cleansing and improving the ESR LMS following each session.
- Introducing a process for line managers and colleagues to report queries or issues, and a further process for the L&D team to review, resolve and report back to the colleague raising the query.
- Simple statistics are produced on a monthly basis, tracking how many issues have been raised, the percentage resolved within the month etc. This also allows us to capture and focus on any repeated reasons for the issues raised.
- It became clear that a process was needed to ensure stakeholder involvement prior to any new element of mandatory training being introduced to the Trust. Our Education Governance Committee introduced such a process to ensure that any future attempts to add additional elements of mandatory training to the current Trust requirements had to be approved at this Committee and go through some level of scrutiny.
This ensured that only approved courses and competencies could be added to ESR LMS and allowed discussion and debate by all of the required stakeholders before any changes were formally agreed.
- It was also important for accurate compliance reporting that the correct employees were located in the correct hierarchy in the system. In order to keep the staff hierarchy as accurate as possible, managers were encouraged to submit position change forms on time and highlight rotations so that the monthly compliance reports would be accurate. We managed compliance data in a pragmatic educated way to ensure we could always provide assurance that the training percentage compliance rates were as accurate as possible.
Danielle Smith, Practice Development Facilitator, Theatres:
It has given me a greater insight into ESR Learning Management and how it works, so now I feel confident to use the system, and I actually input now. Also, I am able to support the staff in the use of e-Learning. I trust the figures produced by ESR, they are an accurate record of my training figures.
Our aims in the development of these focus areas were clear:
- To restore confidence in the ESR LMS, changing the negative perceptions around data quality to positive views of a system that is valuable in tracking and reporting mandatory training, thus supporting patient safety.
- To minimise paper based training materials and maximise e-learning wherever possible, reducing the admin burden at every opportunity.
- To provide assurance to the Board that the monthly reporting was accurate, and that any areas of non-compliance could be quickly identified to ensure ongoing patient safety.
- To initiate a process for approval of Statutory and Mandatory Training Requirements within the Trust.
Employees Access to ESR e-learning
We had already implemented Employee Self Service a number of years ago. However the usage had been historically low as employees didn’t feel the need to log into ESR. It was therefore important that we had to make a positive change to encourage employees to log into ESR.
We decided that to increase the number of employees going into ESR then we would switch off the production of paper payslips. This had a number of benefits; it was safer for employees, it had a positive environmental impact by reducing paper but more importantly it gave them a reason to access Employee Self Service.
We saw more and more employees were accessing the system, as we saw an increase in the number of people calling our support line to help with ESR queries. This included re-setting passwords. We were able to help them by showing them the password re-set functionality in ESR. Once employees started to access Employee Self Service this meant that they became more familiar with the landing page and the various portlets including the My Compliance and My e-Learning portlets.
As we had more and more employees accessing ESR it was now an opportunity to make more training accessible through ESR LMS and we took the decision to remove workbooks. This proved extremely successful as the earlier issues around access had already been resolved and employees could now re-set their own passwords following the guidance that we had provided.
E-Learning has now become the accepted training delivery mode of choice within our Trust and both employees and managers can see the benefits of utilising ESR e-Learning.
During the recent months and with the impact of COVID-19, delivery of training via e-Learning has proved invaluable as we would have struggled to deliver classroom based courses with required social distancing measures.
As the Trust is now signed up to some of the CSTF courses we are now in a position to take advantage of the ESR Pre-Hire Inter Authority Transfer (IAT). This gives us the opportunity to accept CSTF training completed by new successful applicants prior to their arrival at our Trust. Therefore they do not have to repeat this training when they become an employee with us.
- Be honest about your starting point – it was tempting as we began this journey to believe that we had more in place than we actually did. Being honest and recognising that for the most part we needed to start at the beginning helped us to gain a more effective outcome.
- Be ambitious, but realistic – clearly there were pressures to make improvements as quickly as possible, and we swiftly developed our plans with all activities having deadlines and timelines attached. But we also recognised how important it was, for the credibility of the project, not to over-promise. If an activity will take 6 weeks, we said so – of course, it’s was then imperative to deliver on that timeframe.
- Be resilient – we have had times over the course of our project where it felt like weren’t moving forward at all. It’s important to stop, reflect and realise that much has been achieved. When things don’t go to plan, it’s something to be learned from, and move forward.
- Be collaborative – collaborating and engaging with experts and end users has been invaluable at every step. Sometimes to build our knowledge, sometimes to check our thinking and sometimes to validate our progress. Key for us was the inclusion of regional ESR colleagues who understood the technical aspects of what we wanted to achieve and who helped us see the art of the possible.
Looking to the future
Whilst we have achieved much, there is still more to do.
We remain focused on our original challenges and in finding new and improved ways to capture, record and report on our mandatory training. We firmly believe that having accurate data available, in a timely manner, will support the ongoing drive within the Trust to improve compliance levels and ensure patient safety.
We want our management teams to have data at their fingertips to support their planning and decision making processes, and finding ways to update our reporting more regularly is definitely on our agenda now.
Building our knowledge and understanding on the systems and its potential uses, we have already embarked upon the next stage of our ESR journey and have a number of exciting plans ahead. As part of our response to COVID-19 we have had to make a number of changes to our virtual Induction via ESR e-Learning. This has now commenced and gives new employees joining the Trust the opportunity to take part in a virtual induction and record that they have done so via ESR e-Learning. This has transformed the way that we undertake induction for new employees.
To add further prominence to the success of this project, the Trust now has the confidence to use further ESR functionality and we have started to record Appraisals via HTML questionnaires and the Appraisal Template, this is testimony to how far we have come with ESR in the last few months.
For more Information
If you would like to talk to us about our ESR journey please contact: Anne Bridson, Learning & Development Facilitator Anne.Bridson@lwh.nhs.uk
London team demystify Workstructures
The ESR Regional Team in London recently held a Webinar to try and shed some light on Workstructures. Workstructures are an essential part of ESR, but often, the significance is not fully appreciated.
Workstructures form the backbone of the entire ESR system, and it’s absolutely vital that they accurately reflect the structure of the organisation, as an incorrect workstructure can negatively impact so many areas of ESR, such as Finance & Establishment Control, Self Service, Recruitment and Reporting; creating un-necessary additional work.
Creating and amending a Workstructure can seem daunting at first, so the aim of the webinar was to provide a thorough understanding of how it works, and help the attendees to better understand why things need to be done a certain way.
The webinar was run by Helen Casey and Diya Aswani, the NHS ESR Functional Account Managers in London, and was open to attendees from across the country - with 55 people attending the hour-long session.
Helen and Diya covered the basics of setting up a Workstructure; from creating cost codes, organisation levels and locations to the full set up of positions, including specific reference to Doctors in Training.
As well as the basics, the session also covered the various naming conventions, coding requirements and other small, but important, details that need to be understood for a successful organisation structure in ESR.
Thank you so much. The webinar was very informative and very helpful. Thank you both for your efforts and hard work with the presentation.
Hasibah Akhram from North East London Foundation Trust
We are pleased that the webinar has proven to be popular and helpful. The ESR team has scheduled the webinar to be repeated on 20th April 2021 – registration details will be available via the ESR Hub events calendar shortly, and users with the appropriate URPs from all regions are welcome.
For more information about Workstructures please visit the ESR User Manual via the ESR Hub or by contacting your NHS ESR Functional Account Manager for guidance and support.
Royal Free Hospitals Move to Supervisor Self Service - “Optimise to Centralise”
In 2019, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust took the step to optimise its e-HR system. With a number of systems in use, the team wanted to streamline the process – making the process more efficient and simpler for all involved.
To support managers, the trust decided to implement ESR Manager Self Service. They chose a rapid rollout method, with three underlying principles:
- If it can be conducted in e-roster then use e-roster;
- If it cannot be conducted in e-roster then use ESR; and
- ESR will be the main source of employee information and all other systems will reconcile with information held on ESR.
SBS consultancy services were appointed to provide the project management resource. The SBS project manager worked alongside the Head of systems and processes (Employee Services) Sharon Churchley and the project support officers.
The project was initiated in January 2020, but then deferred in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team were able to restart the programme on 6 July, with a target go live date of 1 October.
One of the major challenges would be loading all the supervisor names into ESR against the employees. With over 12,000 members of staff, many with more than one supervisor, it was estimated that this could take up to 900 hours. The NHS ESR Central Team does offer an upload service to assist with supervisor uploads, however the lead time for this support would result in having to maintain the continual changes to the hierarchy alongside what had been sent for upload. The lead time needed to be as short as possible and managed in a way that enabled updates to be provided as they occurred.
This is where the NHS ESR Central Team could potentially offer something new to Sharon and the Royal Free London project team. The BSA’s Workforce Services Directorate is currently piloting a new ESR Optimisation service. This service is a partnership between the NHSBSA’s NHS ESR team and a new Optimisation team to provide hands on support to enable Trusts to optimise their use of the NHS ESR solution. Following the pilot phase, which will conclude in December 2020, information about how this new approach will be offered to NHS organisations will be communicated in due course.
Diya Aswani, the ESR Functional Account Manager and Joanne Milton, the Senior ESR Account Manager for London, felt that the Royal Free London could benefit from being invited to be an ESR Optimisation pilot organisation; it would help them meet their timescale and at the same time enable the new Optimisation team to work alongside the London NHS ESR team to test the new processes that had been developed as part of this approach.
Following some initial scoping discussions, it was agreed that the NHSBSA’ ESR and Optimisation teams, via their Implementation Advisors, could carry out the manual entry of the supervisor details.
Sharon compiled a comprehensive spreadsheet, detailing the nominated managers and additional supervisors. This was a large task and Sharon’s team worked tirelessly to ensure that the correct managers were recorded. Where information about managers could not be collected manually the information was populated according to the trust's Financial Scheme of Delegation list based on their budget approval level.
Once this was completed and in a semi-static state, Sharon was able to remove records that had future-dated changes against them as they would be dealt with directly by her project team. In the meantime, remote access to the Royal Free London’s VPD was granted to the ESR and BSA Implementation Advisors, enabling them to have direct access to the data for updating. Smartcards were checked and URPs assigned.
On Friday 18 September the spreadsheet was uploaded via a Service Request and passed onto the Optimisation team. Over the next two days the data input work was carried out, with touchpoint meetings and audit checks also undertaken. All the required data was uploaded and was quality checked by 30 September.
During the project 14,376 single pieces of data were entered by the ESR/ Optimisation teams taking approximately 200 hours. Rigorous audit processes were in place throughput the project to ensure the data being entered was correct.
On 1 October, in line with Royal Free London's project plan, Supervisor Self Service went live to the whole organisation and every employee had a named manager in ESR.
Talking about the project, Sharon Churchley said:
The project is in its infancy and managers are still getting used to the new way of working, but the benefits of Manager Self Service are already evident, with users indicating a preference over the previous processes in use.
The support and work undertaken by the NHSBSA ESR and Optimisation team was pivotal to the successful rollout of this project. The interaction with all those involved via Teams meetings provided a real sense of reassurance and common understanding of the approach. The work conducted eliminated additional administrative costs and enabled the RFL team to concentrate on other critical areas of roll out. They really did an excellent job, and reduced the pressure for us in the final project stages.”