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New joint HR and Self Service SIGs is established in the South East

Establishment of the seven regions within the NHS in England introduced an opportunity to re-align the ESR Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Previously, the South included four regions (South West, Wessex, Thames Valley and Kent, Surrey & Sussex); this is now just two regions - South West and South East. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) met face to face like many other networks, and previous efforts to merge the South East SIGs to align with the national seven regions presented some challenges.  These geographically large regions meant it wasn’t always possible to find a suitable venue that was practical for all of the SIG members - the region is vast, stretching from Buckinghamshire to the Isle of Wight and Kent to Hampshire.  However, just as the pandemic and restrictions on travel have presented challenges, the move to virtual working has also created opportunities, and for the SIGs this opportunity has been a catalyst for merging these ESR networks.

During November, the HR/Recruitment and Self Service group held their first virtual meeting of combined members.  Helen Pope, Workforce Intelligence Manager at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust is the Chair:

Moving the SIG meetings online has meant more members have been able to join where historically travel time and cost has been an issue for many. I’m keen for as many members as possible to join the SIG meetings, as it’s the one meeting that’s usually really useful for people in the ESR community in our region.  The move to virtual meetings alone has increased our ability to share issues, knowledge and experience; to provide support for each other and help Trusts progress with ESR projects or resolve problems, and always go away with something new learnt.

Expanding the membership from seventy three to one hundred and sixteen members covering a larger geographical area without having to worry about finding meeting rooms in the right location is fantastic. Within our region there are a number of Trusts who are experienced ESR users and have rolled out major projects such a Manager Self Service, which means we are not relying on the same few individuals to lead discussions and answer queries. We are also able to offer additional meetings to discuss specific topics so the main quarterly SIG meeting remains focussed on the issues that matter and giving us enough time to make it meaningful for all.

This definitely is a case of ‘the more the merrier!


Helen has already organised the first sub group meeting to discuss Establishment Control in more detail and SIG members who have already implemented Establishment Control will be sharing their experiences and lessons learned with those that are about to embark upon an Establishment Control project.


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