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A Spotlight on ESR Data Quality

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust – Data Quality Transformation Success

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has undergone a significant transformation over the past two years to provide an enviable platform of workforce insight that underpins our strategic, tactical, and operational workforce planning.

To support our transformation, we undertook several initiatives to enhance our data integrity, starting with ESR. In February 2019, our Trust ranked 302 out of 423 Trusts with a score of 8,635 in the WoVen rankings, so we were clear on our starting position. With this in mind, Penny Wright, our Head of Workforce Planning, Information & Resourcing, set the challenging task for us to achieve number #1 rank in the region and number #1 rank nationally.   

Joanne Penfold, ESR Lead told us:

I began to analyse the key areas for improvement and worked with colleagues in other departments to identify the challenges. This was not a small task, so I needed to draw on my subject matter expertise and understanding of ESR to pilot changes through education, training, and system adjustments. The analysis guided our focus to improving the data we had captured for new starters e.g., sexual orientation, ethnic origin, and disability.

I contacted colleagues directly and where necessary, via their manager to capture any additional data such as unknown email addresses.  I encouraged and supported them by explaining that as an equal opportunities employer it was vital to capture this information for all employees. Other initiatives also helped to improve the data held, such as reducing coding errors.


Within 12 months, the Trust started to see a significant improvement in the ranking, moving up 256 places, to 46 out of 423 Trusts by February 2020. As the project continued, the WoVEN ranking was promoted across the Trust, which helped Joanne to generate a real desire across the organisation to achieve #1 in the national rankings. The Nationality field was finally populated for all staff by March 2020, and this pushed ESHT ‘over the line’. ESHT achieved the coveted No.1 spot in July 2021 led by Joanne Penfold and supported by her team, Recruitment, Medical Staffing, ESHT EDI Lead and the operational teams.

Huge congratulations, a massive achievement – very proud of you. Fabulous work!

Chief People Officer


Well done all #proud.

Chief Nurse


That is brilliant news! Congratulations to everyone involved.



Well done, Joanne. This is a really great achievement by your team. You do ESHT proud.

Non-Exec Director


Joanne continued:

At ESHT, we continue to strive to maintain top rankings and are proud of the audits now in place to deliver a high level of confidence in our data integrity and accuracy. As an integrated Trust undergoing significant transformation, we continue to experience significant changes, however robust processes, web-based forms, and stringent audits play a key role in our delivery. What we are most proud of at East Sussex Healthcare Trust is a collective desire to deliver excellence in everything we do.


 How Trust data quality helps Health Education England

Having access to a broad spectrum of relevant and accurate ESR data helps Health Education England (HEE) to deliver on its mandate to ensure we train the right people with the right skills to be in the right place at the right time. Training insufficient numbers leads to a gap between demand and supply of staff, which drives costs up as locums and agency staff are hired to close that gap. High vacancy rates can place an extra strain on the existing workforce which in turn could drive up sickness and absence due to stress along with increased turnover rates and retention problems; all of which quickly develops into a vicious circle of events which is hard to break. 

Training too many can cause recruiting problems in the future, along with reputational issues for both the Universities and the health service. Training pipelines for the clinical professions in the NHS are complex and long, making it harder to recover from a shortfall or a mistake caused by poor data quality. 

As a service we need to be able to look-into the future and plan accurately for the recruitment and training of our workforce - who will join the service and carry the baton of responsibility for delivering health care to the population.  Ultimately, it is the service user who will suffer if we get it wrong.  We mustn’t let poor data quality be the cause.

Simon Orr

Applied Workforce Planning Lead

Workforce Education Transformation Team

HEE South East


How can Self Service help your data quality?

ESR Employee Self Service enables employees and applicants to review and update their data at source. 

The My ESR Employee Dashboard provides the My Personal Information and My Equality and Diversity portlets:

Your local ESR Portal Administrator can add portlets to the various ESR Dashboards. 


For more information regarding the WoVEn report, and to download the WoVEn England / Wales organisation rankings and scores reports, please go to the NHS Digital website.


The ESR BI > NHS ESR Data Quality Dashboard provides a comprehensive suite of data quality tests.  These are intended to help organisations identify missing or incorrect information.



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