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An update from the National ESR Director

As I write my ESR end of year round up for 2023, I once again reflect on a busy year and how 12-months really has flown by!

I continue to appreciate that across the NHS, addressing operational challenges remains a priority and how this impacts the ability to initiate change projects. However, I am delighted with the levels of engagement, continued support to the ESR Service team and local ambition to optimise use of ESR. Working in partnership with NHS organisations and collaboratively with our delivery partners in NHS England and NHS Wales, 2023 has been another successful year in terms of service growth.

I would once again like to thank IBM, our technology and service partner, and colleagues within the NHSBSA ESR service team, who together have worked tirelessly to maintain a high-quality service. Ensuring service stability and security remains, and will continue to be, our highest priority.

ESR System Usage and Developments

2023 has been a positive year for ESR optimisation, directly supported by our new Standards and Levels of Attainment framework that was introduced in the summer. I will talk some more about that later in this piece, but throughout the year NHS organisations have continued to strive to optimise their use of functionality within ESR and realise many of the associated efficiency and productivity benefits.

Our collaboration with key strategic stakeholders and delivery partners has continued - particularly in relation to workforce policy in England and Wales. Ensuring that ESR can meet the needs of the NHS remains a priority for the service team and during this year, like previous years, it’s been a busy development calendar looking at existing capabilities of ESR and enhancing the user experience for NHS employees and managers. Some of the highlights include:

  • Major software update to the ESR Portal
  • Changes to:
    • Protected Characteristics capability
    • Fit and Proper Person Test
    • Employment Checklist
  • Enhancements to Learning Management
  • Frontline Worker Flag

You can read more about all of these developments in this edition of ESR News

Alongside ESR solution developments, our engagement and collaboration in relation to wider workforce transformation has continued to be a priority. I mentioned last year how ESR is supporting parts of the Future of HR & OD report, and how ESR is an enabler to supporting how the people profession is working to transform people services, using digital tools and platforms, to create a more timely, standardised and intuitive service. ESR Self-Service functionality is a key enabler in support of this vision and our new Self-Service Standards and Levels of Attainment Assessment is providing Chief People Officers (CPO) and ESR Leads with a framework in which to develop optimisation plans. Ultimately, such plans will enable NHS organisations to create significant and tangible enhancements to the experience of their employees, whilst laying the foundations that will support to transition to the future NHS workforce solution.

Whilst there is a lot of focus on digital transformation, the NHS must complement such tools by maintaining a focus on redesigning processes using the technology and tools that we have available to us – both today and in preparation for the future. Our regional ESR teams can provide support, guidance and practical assistance to understanding how organisations can reshape business processes to optimise efficiency and release transactional activity from corporate teams.

As we look forward to 2024, we are already well into planning the enhancement pipeline. Supported by an end of year software release (scheduled at the end of December 2023), we have a number of changes planned from January, including a significant change to the Pensions re-banding process in the March 2024 release, ahead of April processing. All such changes will be published in our routine service communications and guide to enhancements.

Additionally, (and subject to testing) we will be a launching the new ESR User Manual on the ESR Hub website in January. This is part of a wider project to transform ESR Education that is delivered by our delivery partners, IBM.  There is an update in this edition of ESR News to help you understand what is changing.

The Future NHS Workforce Solution

In the Winter 2022 edition of ESR News, I referenced the ESR Transformation programme and its aim to bring the latest innovation into the future NHS workforce solution (to replace ESR), building on the existing capabilities of ESR and enhancing the user experience for NHS employees and managers.

Great progress has been made during the year and I would like to thank all involved across the Programme and NHS colleagues in England and Wales for their work, achievements and continued support.

Chris Price, NHSBSA ESR Transformation Programme Director, has provided a further update in this edition of ESR News.

Thanks, and Best Wishes…

Finally, I hope that you find this December edition of ESR News interesting. On behalf of the NHSBSA and the ESR Service team, may I express our thanks for all your support throughout 2023, and wish you a Merry Christmas and offer Best Wishes for a healthy and happy 2024.



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