Programme news

ESR Discovery – Your ESR, Your Vision

The NHSBSA has established a Transformation Programme for the Electronic Staff Record (ESR).  

The ESR Discovery is the first project in this programme, and provides users and stakeholders across the NHS with the opportunity to tell us about their experiences of ESR.  The feedback received will enable the NHSBSA to better understand what ESR stakeholders and users need from a workforce solution, and help to inform requirements for the wider ESR Transformation Programme. 

The Roadmap 

By summer 2024 it is anticipated that the Transformation Programme will have completed a procurement exercise – enabling a period of transition up to August 2025 (current contract expiry date). The timeline below indicates the key phases that the programme is expected to follow:   

ESR Transformation roadmap

The planned timeframes for the completion of the transformation activities will be informed by subsequent service design and implementation planning. 

The Vision 

The programme seeks to place users and stakeholders at the heart of ESR service design.  NHSBSA Workforce Services will: 

  • support effective recruitment, retention and workforce planning within Health and Care; and
  • provide workforce services that support delivery of the People Plan and other workforce policies (including outcomes from the Future HR and OD Programme).

Your ESR, Your Vision 

Over the course of a 4 month period the NHSBSA are undertaking the largest strategic user engagement and listening exercise since ESR was implemented, involving stakeholders from across the NHS in England and Wales being invited to engage with a team of researchers from Accenture (acting on behalf of NHSBSA Workforce Services).   

So far… 

  • Over 12,300 NHS staff  have participated in an Employee Self Service (ESS) survey via the ESR Portal and direct survey link;
  • Over 3,400 NHS Manager Self Service (MSS) users have participated in an MSS survey via the ESR Portal and direct survey link;
  • 120 Directors and Deputy Directors of HR/Workforce/Heads of HR have participated in a senior stakeholder survey;
  • 50 Strategic stakeholders and policy makers from NHS England, NHS Wales and regional networks have engaged with the researcher team via one to one interviews and focus groups. 

User input to the ESR Discovery project, at each appropriate stage is really important.  As we progress through the different stages of the Discovery, the NHS ESR regional teams will be making contact with a number of HRDs and ESR Leads to invite organisations and their employees to engage with the researcher team. 

An information page about the ESR Transformation Programme has been added to the ESR Hub, giving an overview of the ESR Transformation Programme and the roadmap timeline.  A separate FAQ page is also available via the ESR Hub to answer some of the more frequently asked questions from stakeholders and users. 

If you have a question about the ESR Transformation Programme/ESR Discovery project that is not answered in the FAQs you can contact the ESR Discovery project team via 

Regular updates about the project will be communicated via the ESR Hub and our usual ESR communication channels. 

Coming Soon...changes to the Password Policy and the Login Screen

ESR Password Policy image

Users will notice a number of key changes following the implementation of ESR Release 49 (planned for 26th March) to some of the most used areas, including the login page, password expiry and password criteria.  Details of the changes are set out here and will apply to all new user accounts with the password criteria also being applicable to existing users when passwords are updated.

Password Criteria

As mentioned, for existing user accounts the password criteria detailed below will need to be used once the password is either reset or is required to be changed.  For any user accounts created following ESR Release 49 then the below rules will need to be followed.

New Criteria

Previous Criteria

Must be minimum of 12 characters

8 characters

Remove enforced use of at least one letter and one number

Password must contain at least one letter and one number

Special characters permitted e.g. %@!()

Some special characters are not permitted

May not be the same as previous four passwords

Must differ from previous passwords

All other criteria for passwords remains the same with passwords not allowed to contain reference to certain common, or easy to guess information such as username and location for example.

Password Expiry Periods

For user accounts created following ESR Release 49 the 90 day timeout will no longer be set as the default.  Instead there will be no timeout period defined i.e. the password will never expire.

The Auto User Account Creation process, which creates new user account for qualifying new employees, applicants and external users has also been updated to use all of the new rules outlined above.

Local Communication for Users Password Policy poster

To help ESR Leads we have developed a pdf poster that can be used internally to help NHS employees understand the changes to the Password Policy.  You can download it here.

Streamlined Doctors in Training Interface with TIS – A focus on Host and Lead Employer Arrangements

The Streamlined Doctors in Training Interface with Health Education England’s (HEE) Trainee Information System (TIS) supports Host and Lead Employers in managing Doctors in Training. Key functions of the interface include:

  • A facility to send person and appointment data into ESR for Doctor in Training placements;
  • A communication tool for updates or changes to medical training appointments;
  • A tool which allows ESR person updates to be shared with the TIS system.

With the rollout of the Person Update Capability now complete in England (February 2021), the full interface offering is available to all those Trusts live on the interface. There are currently 191 Trusts operating the interface across England and Wales.

Many ‘Host’ and ‘Lead’ employer arrangements exist across the NHS for Doctors in Training. This is where a medical trainee occupies a position geographically situated within one organisation, but is actually employed by another. This information can be captured within the ‘Host’ and ‘Lead’ employer indicators included in the Position Description form within ESR Work-structures.

Person Update Capability

The Person Update capability allows changes captured within ESR for hired Doctors in Training to transfer into TIS. The types of information shared includes: names; Date of Birth; Gender; NINO; Telephone Numbers; Email Address; Ethnic Origin and Addresses.

As part of this interface flow, information will transfer on a daily basis, keeping HEE and ESR in line with one another - although it is important to highlight that this transfer is only relevant to paying or lead employers. Changes from Host Employers made to honorary records within ESR are not transferred to TIS, as the Lead Employer record is viewed as the master within ESR.

How can organisations ensure they use the interface effectively?

Once the ESR position identifiers have been setup within ESR and shared with TIS via the interface, TIS will release trainee doctor information for each of the positions to the appropriate employer through this interface process (this can be to either the ‘Host’ and/or ‘Lead’ employers). 

For this information to be released from TIS, an employer must be subscribed to the interface and the ESR positions must have the correct indicators assigned in the ‘Host/Lead Employer Status’ field.


Of note; host employers should hire trainees as ‘Honorary’, while lead employers should choose ‘Employee’ upon hire.

TIS Honorary employees

Why is information management so important?

For ‘Lead’ employers using the interface, it is essential that Trusts accurately maintain both their person and post data, because this information flows back into TIS (now that the person update capability is in play). Trusts may use Employee Self Service to reduce the burden of administrating person level changes for Doctors in Training and run the IAT process from a previous employer.

For host employers, it is essential that these organisations maintain their ESR position data, as any issues with the quality of this data could inhibit the applicant creation process within their ESR database.

For further information about this interface please visit the ‘Explore Resources’ section of the My ESR Hub and then navigate to ‘ESR Functionality Guidance’ > ‘Doctors in Training’.

If your organisation would like to implement this interface offering, please contact the ESR Support Desk.

New ESR Data Quality video available

Following on from the successful Data Quality webinars delivered in 2019, a Data Quality video has been published on the ESR Hub that covers a number of key resources and topics in relation to Workforce Data Quality across the NHS.

The video includes an overview of the resources available to organisations in ESR BI, insight into the importance of data quality at a national level as well as the the main issues from guest speaker Nick Armitage (formerly of NHS Digital) and a summary of other key resources produced by the ESR Central Team to help improve the quality of ESR data.

Areas covered include:

The video can be found on the ESR Hub using the following path Browse National Content > Functionality/Guidance > Human Resources or by using the search function and searching for ‘Data Quality Video’.

Alternatively – click here

Using ESR to Manage Pay Progression

From the 1st April 2021 the transition period for staff employed before 1st April 2019 will end (as agreed in the 2018 Contract Refresh).  For all organisations in England changes will be applied to ESR which will remove the exemptions from the Pay Progression Process which were previously applied, and staff will now need the appropriate value recorded on the Pay Progression Meeting review. 


To help organisations prepare for the end of the transition period the existing NHS Standard Dashboards have been updated to ensure all relevant employees are now returned within the reporting, Any Pay Progression related BI Portlets have also been updated to ensure all relevant employees are now returned.

It is recommended that the BI Report available in the NHS Staff Requirements Dashboard is used to confirm members of staff due a pay progression in the coming period. This is available to both HR users and managers. 

Pay Progression BI Reporting

The pre-increment report, which is run as part of payroll processing will also highlight any employee who is due a pay effecting progression step and indicate whether they are set to progress or not.

Pay Progression Increment report

Please remember that for your employees who meet the criteria of the terms and conditions of service, will need to have the Pay Progression field against their assignment will need to be set to Yes where the step is pay effecting.


Three new alerts have been created for HR Administrators as well as, Administrator, Supervisor and Manager self service users.  Subscribing to these alerts will highlight employees on AfC Bands 8c and above who are at the top of the band and will need to re-earn part of their salary.

The alerts are designed to run monthly and include employees who are due to re-earn part of their salary 4 months and 1 month before and those due in the same month.

The alerts are available within the NHS Standard Dashboards/NHS Staff Requirements Dashboard Items/Alerts folder:

Pay Progressions Alerts

Updating the Pay Progression details

It is necessary to record the outcome of the Pay Progression meeting in ESR to ensure that employees progress appropriately and the following options are available to support this process:

Self Service

Managers are able to set up and complete the Pay Meeting in ESR using the Appraisal and Review functionality.  Your Managers and employees will receive reminders for those staff with a pay effecting pay step within the next three months.

Information on Managing Pay Progression via Self Service can be found in the ESR User Manual:

Professional Users

In these challenging times managers may not have the time to complete this process for their impacted staff and so central support from HR Teams may be required.

Information on Managing Pay Progression through HR functionality can be found in the ESR User Manual:

A joint working group of the NHS Staff Council Executive has produced guidance to support the application of pay progression during the COVID-19 pandemic.  For further information please review Application of Pay Progression from 1st April 2021.

Case studies

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals - Six Steps to implementing Online Payslips in ESR


The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) is the main provider of district general hospital services for nearly half a million people and have a staff headcount of just under 8,000. 

SaTH moved to online payslips from August 2020 - their driver coming from their Workforce and Medical Directors who wanted to protect staff during the pandemic by minimising the distribution of paper and reduce foot traffic at hospital sites, thereby removing the need for people to collect payslips from work locations (as this supported home working and redeployed staff), while removing the security risk of non-collection. 

The ESR West Midlands Functional Account Manager, Kerry Rooke, supported the SaTH ESR team to introduce online payslips, providing assistance and guidance where needed and following the steps as outlined in the Implementing Online Payslips toolkit (available here on the ESR Hub).  The toolkit was not available at the time SaTH moved to online payslips, but the guidance provided broadly followed the six step implementation process as detailed within the toolkit. 

SaTH and six Steps to online payslips

1.  Employee Self Service (ESS) – ensure employees have access to ESS or ESS Limited Access over the internet

SaTH were not using Employee Self Service (ESS) prior to their move to online payslips, therefore the first step of their project was to implement Employee Self Service Limited Access (ESSLA). 

Employees who didn’t have an email account were set up with the support of the Trust’s IT team. Having all employees using an account has proven invaluable in helping with the need to support staff testing and vaccination activities during the pandemic.   Staff Side’s input was invaluable and they were fully supportive of the move to online payslips.

The Trust’s ESR team created and resourced a dedicated telephone support service for all staff that needed assistance with accessing ESS for first time. 

To support the introduction of ESS and to promote engagement with staff, useful information and local user guides were made available on their ESR intranet and Trust internet pages. 

The BI NHS Workforce Profile Dashboard (Online ESR access) report was used extensively throughout the project to monitor and report on progress with users accessing ESS.  

Rhia Boyode – Workforce Director advised:

The team did a great job with introducing ESR ESS across our Trust during a very challenging time. The benefits to our staff are fantastic and I’d recommend that if you haven’t fully deployed ESR ESS you do so as it’s been very well received by our staff.

2. Opt out of receiving paper payslips at Trust level

SaTH opted out of receiving paper payslips in August 2020, by switching the Workstructures – Organisation Trust level ‘Print Payslip and P60’ flag to No.  At the time of switching off, although not all staff had accessed their ESS account, the team supported those staff that required assistance.  The switch-off had been preceded with a “soft-launch” in June that was intended to promote the option to staff to opt out of receiving paper payslips.

3.  Exceptions – review exceptions and opt back in at individual level or via mass update

SaTH have an impressive 98% of staff who have opted out of receiving a printed payslip, and ensure that only those with exceptional reasons receive a paper payslip – an example would be visual impairment. A number of staff asked to continue to receive a paper payslip and approximately 2% have been opted back in at individual level. The SaTH Pay Services Team completed this task by manually amending the Person level – Extra Information Type – ‘Print Payslip and P60’ flag to Yes against each individual.  For staffs who currently receive a paper payslip, this is posted to their home address. 

SaTH had minimal numbers so chose to opt individuals back in by entering each Person record; however, if organisations have a requirement to opt a large number of individuals back into receiving paper payslips/P60s, a process is available to mass update person records via the creation of an assignment set.

4.  Offset Date – set the number of days before payday when payslips are available via ESS

SaTH have their Payslip offset date set to -8, which means that their employees have the ability to view their payslip 8 days before payday. 

Andy Lloyd – Head of Payroll Services commented:

We have the payslip set as -8 as we like our employees to be able to view their payslips as soon as we can let them; it helps the Payroll Team as we can space out the queries. 

Example above shows payday -4 days.

5.  Online Payslip Generation – run the Payroll and ensure processes run to generate online payslips

A number of Payroll processes need to be completed before the generation of the online payslips (see related document – Detailed End to End Payroll Processes).  After completion of the relevant processes the following requests will generate the online payslip for viewing by Payroll and Self Service users:

  • NHS Generate Payslip Data Archive (gathers and stores payslip data for all employees processed in a Payroll run).
  • NHS Complete Payslip Archive (picks up the final status of the payslip and adds any payslip messages that may need to be included, therefore should be run after BACS completion).

SaTH run the NHS Copy Pay Advice each pay period which automatically submits the NHS Generate Payslip Data Archive process - if it hasn’t already been run. However, the recommended process is to run the above two processes independently, as single requests.

6.  Leavers and Exceptions – produce copy payslips

As employees no longer have access to My ESR from their ‘Actual Termination Date’, leavers are automatically eligible to receive a printed payslip to their home.  SaTH run the NHS Pay Advice process which automatically produces paper payslips for their leavers. 

Also, SaTH ensured that those who were on maternity leave during the implementation period are provided with access to their ESR ESS account.

Next steps

SaTH’s introduction of ESSLA and online payslips has encouraged and increased the appetite for additional use of ESR functionality, and the next step on their ESR journey is to implement Manager Self Service functionality.

James Drury – Director of Finance states:

This is the second Trust where I have implemented electronic payslips.  Using ESR is simple and straightforward, saves paper and reduces payroll costs.

Further Information and Guidance

In December 2020, approximately 81% of NHS employees who have an ESR record no longer received a paper payslip.  For ESR organisations that are yet to make the switch, we hope by sharing the experiences of the SaTH team, it has helped dispel any concerns you may have and encourage you to look at your own online payslip transition. 

SaTH followed our step by step guidance about how to implement online payslips; the full toolkit is available on the ESR Hub, just visit

Further information and support is also available by contacting your Regional Functional Account Manager.



Salisbury share their experiences of rolling out Manager Self Service and Appraisal functionality.

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust has a headcount of approximately 4,800 staff and is the main care provider for Salisbury and the surrounding areas.

As part of a concerted effort to develop data flows within our Trust, in March 2019 the Organisational Development and People department were challenged to consider how both the accuracy and accessibility of workforce data could be improved.

The organisations internal  ESR project group (named ‘ESR optimisation’) decided to maximise use of ESR to provide a true ‘hire to retire’ workforce solution. While it was acknowledged from the outset that this was a big task given our previous limited use of the ESR solution, huge benefits were visualised. Additionally, the need to align with the Trust’s digital strategy of aligning systems wherever possible provided the catalyst for the project to start.

Initially the project group identified a number of historic paper based processes where streamlining using ESR might be possible, these included terminations, change of hours and hierarchy changes via Manager Self Service. As part of this ongoing strategy, it was also decided to switch off paper payslips for all employees, and to scope the use of appraisals in ESR to remove the need for a third party solution.

As part of this project we wanted to empower our managers and employees to own their data, including emergency contact details, equality and diversity information and adjusting supervisors within their hierarchy.

A full Business Case and supporting Project Initiation Document were developed and a phased plan was developed.

Phase 1

May 2019 – March 2020 – this involved a review of the Hierarchy and ensured ESR was aligned to the Organisation. It also included  promotion and subsequent roll out of Employee Self Service (ESS) including the release of online payslips. 

Over the course of the past 17 months we have worked closely with our regional NHS ESR Functional Account Manager and Implementation Advisor with all phase 1 activities completed on time.

As such, following a well received internal communication campaign paper payslips were switched off on 31st March 2020. This has led to a cost saving of 0.5 WTE and reduced Information Governance risks.

Phase 2

April 2020 – December 2020 – this focused on continued data improvement, and through process redesign a reduction in the Trusts reliance on paper based processes. This is was anticipated would increase efficiency as well as providing more timely and accurate data. Scoping of ESR appraisals was also planned for this phase. Additionally, this phase included enabling more timely and accurate data and scoping online appraisals to assist with Pay Progression for the whole organisation.

Over the course of the 17 months we worked closely with our regional NHS ESR Functional Account Manager and Implementation Advisor which enabled us to complete all our phase 1 activities on time. We then switched off paper payslips on 31st March 2020 following an internal communications campaign that was well received, and as a result has led to cost savings and reduced Information Governance risks.

The project has continued during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and Manager Self Service was successfully launched across the Trust on 1st November 2020. This was undoubtedly due to our extensive planning, excellent internal teamwork and crucially, dedicated support from the NHSBSA ESR Regional Team.

The pandemic meant that like many other NHS organisations face to face training sessions couldn’t be held so a virtual package was developed and accessed by over 100 managers. A number of initial successes have been noted t with further phasing out of paper forms and ongoing support to Managers now possible. Given this we are confident that Manager Self Service will become fully embedded across the Trust within the next few months.

Throughout this phased project we have learnt that engagement with teams across the whole Trust is pivotal if processes are to work successfully.  Given the links between ESR and other digital systems, close relationships have therefore been built with Finance, e-Roster, IT and the Trusts Communication teams,

One of the major considerations of the project was to develop the Trust’s ESR hierarchy and ensure that it accurately represented the Trust’s structure. This took some time to achieve but has proved critical to allow us to move onto the next stage of the project. On occasions some parts of the project  have not go to plan; however support from our NHS ESR Functional Account Manager and Implementation Advisor has allowed us to develop alternative solutions.

The development of a robust Communication Plan is also recommended so as to ensure all staff are aware of upcoming project timelines and are prepared to embrace changes that might affect the recording of their work related date.  

Our next step is to roll out ESR Appraisals from (April/May2021) with a full review of our Establishment Control processes planned for later in the year. Further utilisation of the following ESR functionality is also planned:

  • Use of the pre-hire IAT and Applicant Dashboard process;
  • Use of TIS interface;
  • Using the ESR exit questionnaire as part of the Trust’s Leavers process;
  • Ensuring ESR is fully embedded into the Trust’s Starter’s, Movers and Leavers review.

    Gary Dawson – Project and Policy Lead for Organisational Development and People said:

    Getting in touch with the NHS ESR Team early and obtaining the relevant expertise has been invaluable to our success at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.

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