ESR developments during 2023

ESR Developments to improve user experience and meet the priorities of the NHS

2023 has seen another busy year for the development and maintenance of ESR with changes introduced including pay awards, legislative changes, technical upgrades and developments to support national initiatives and agendas.

The testing for the final release of 2023 (scheduled for 29th December) is well underway, and we thought it would be timely to reflect on some of the changes that have been delivered this year:

  • Technical Deliverables and Changes.
  • Updates to prevent the deletion of Protected Characteristic information in Self Service.
  • Updates to the Fit and Proper Person Test.
  • Updates to Employment Checklist details to provide logical navigation.
  • The introduction of a Frontline Healthcare worker flag to provide the NHS with information in relation to provider vaccination costs.
  • Updates to a number of notifications and emails to provide users with relevant and clear information.
  • Changing the OLM Joining Instructions to Meeting Requests.
  • Developments to improve the monitoring of class enrolments.

The contribution and support we have received from all of our users and stakeholders is invaluable in helping us to prioritise changes that deliver benefits for the NHS.  This year has been a particular challenge with some large infrastructure changes and so the contribution ensures we can accurately identify, gather and define requirements; allowing our pipeline of change to reflect both user and policy needs.

All of the changes introduced in to ESR can be found in the Guide to Enhancement and Changes which accompany each release, which is available on the ESR Hub website 

Technical Deliverables and Changes

The technical changes to ESR are essential in order to safeguard service delivery and future proof the service. Whilst the user benefits of such changes are not always immediately obvious, they play a vital role in ensuring that the service remains at the forefront of using the latest technologies and is positioned to adopt new developments.

One of the major upgrade projects this year was to the ESR Portal. It was important to both our support and development path that we moved to a later version of software and this upgrade will enable us to explore further opportunities for improvements to the user interface through different components. The upgrade was successfully delivered against the whole of the first-line access to ESR in August with no detriment to the service.

One of the key components of ESR and a major benefit of the national solution is the fact it is covered by a detailed disaster recovery plan. This is something that is constantly reviewed and assessed to ensure that the system can respond in the event of an emergency situation affecting availability. Following the successful move to the new data centre last year we were able, for the first time, to switch ESR to using the disaster recovery instance for a period of time during which users were accessing and conducting transactions, before reverting to the production service. Although on the face of it this may sound simple it involved a great deal of planning and complexity to ensure ESR was able to demonstrate service resilience.

Prevent Deletion of Protected Characteristics in Self Service.

In January 2023, the ability for self-service users to update any of the following fields to replace a previously saved value with a blank entry was removed:

  • Ethnic Origin
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religious Belief
  • Marital Status

The change has helped to further improve Protected Characteristic data quality and declaration rates which provide organisations with information to demonstrate compliance with equality legislation and to comply with NHS data standards.  Users are now presented with the full list of values to choose from, including ‘I do not wish to disclose’ if that is their wish.

Fit and Proper Person Test

In 2014 the Government introduced a requirement, the Fit and Proper Person Test, to ensure that NHS organisation board members, and those who perform functions equivalent of a board member, were ‘fit and proper’ for their roles.

In 2019 a review of the Fit and Proper Person Test carried out by the Kark enquiry made a number of recommendations.  In response NHS England published the Fit and Proper Test Framework which has been effective since 30th September 2023.

The Framework introduced a requirement for organisations to retain certain information relating to board members - the aim of which is to prioritise patient safety and good leadership in NHS organisations.

Organisations are expected to use the Framework for all new board appointments and promotions and for annual assessments for existing board members.

The NHSBSA ESR Team worked with NHS England Kark Implementation Team to ensure that organisations can record and monitor their Board members compliance with the Framework.  This led to the addition of new fields being introduced in ESR Release 57 at the end of March. The information is also reportable via ESRBI.

Further development is planned for ESR Release 59 at the end of December to add further fields and rename a number of the existing fields.

Updates to Employment Checklist Details

Changes have been made to the Employment Checklist Details which improve the logical navigation for users ensuring that only legitimate employment checks are held within the Employment Checklist Details EIT (Extra Information Type).  Additionally, some attributes have been removed from the Employment Checklist Details, to accommodate any future requirements to be added to the existing check available within ESR.

The following attributes have been moved from the Employment Checklist EIT to the Fit and Proper Person Test EIT, enabling fit and proper person test data to be recorded more efficiently:

  • Insolvency Check
  • Disqualified Dir Check
  • Self-Declaration Form Signed

Frontline Healthcare Worker Flag

A Frontline Healthcare worker flag at assignment and position level has been introduced into ESR to provide the NHS with the information they need to make accurate payments to providers relating to vaccinations.

This means this information no longer needs to be collected manually which will reduce reporting burdens on organisations.

Notification and Email Text Changes

We undertook a review of ESR notifications and emails to ensure that they provided ESR users with relevant and clear information.  Following the review, and taking into consideration user feedback, changes were made to the wording of the notifications and emails below:

  • Fixed Term Contract Expiry
  • Development Review Due
  • Right to Work Expiry
  • Registration Expiry
  • Exit Questionnaire

OLM Joining Instructions Emails Changed to a Meeting Request

In January 2023, the OLM Joining Instructions, which was previously sent as an email for a class enrolment, was changed to be sent as a meeting request.

In addition:

Any changes to class time, date or venue are sent as meeting updates and class cancellation or class withdrawals are sent as a meeting cancellation for the original meeting request.

Additionally, the custom text that could be added to the joining instructions by organisations was increased and the fields that held the text were HTML enabled. This included adding a new field to the class form.

All of this information is included in the meeting request so that learners attending training via Microsoft Teams can now directly launch the class from their Outlook calendar.

This development has already brought benefits to organisations by reducing DNA rates for classes as all the required information and changes to the class are now managed directly from a single calendar event rather than from several different emails.

Monitoring data quality for class enrolments

Several developments were made in collaboration with the Learning Management National Special Interest Group to improve the quality of data recorded related to class enrolments, with a specific focus on non-attendance (DNA).

With better data, organisations will better understand the reasons for withdrawals and DNAs and they can look at ways of reducing these, leading to better attendance at classes and more effective use of training budgets.

The developments were:

  • Review of enrolment change reasons to ensure that these are still relevant to business needs
  • Restricting the enrolment change reasons based on the enrolment status selected, ensuring that the reasons displayed are relevant to the status selected and removing the ability to select an inappropriate reason
  • The ability to update enrolment change reason independently of the enrolment status, making it easier to update when new information related to a DNA is provided
  • Allowing the Non-Attendance reason to be updated directly from the Update Attendance Portlet, increasing the efficiency in updating this information

Looking Ahead

Next year promises to be equally busy and we are already working on the delivery of legislative, policy and ongoing user-led changes. As always, our focus will be on ensuring we respond to these challenges and continue to deliver a first-class solution with increased efficiencies to help the NHS workforce.


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