ESR Business Intelligence - supporting efficient and effective workforce management

A Case Study from the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust


The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation (RNHRD NHS FT) Trust, known locally as 'the Min', is a specialist hospital in the centre of Bath with an international reputation for research, and expertise in rheumatology, fatigue management and pain management. The Trust also provides diagnostic, endoscopy and clinical measurement services.

With around 380 employees, the RNHRD NHS FT is unique in being one of the smallest acute specialist Trust in England providing services at a national level.

The Project

In spring 2013, the RNHRD NHS FT Board approved a five year Human Resources (HR) and Operational Development (OD) strategy, and associated people management effectiveness programme to facilitate higher levels of employee engagement whilst maintaining an ambitious HR cost improvement plan. A key part of this strategy was the introduction of a new leadership development initiative underpinned by revised HR policies and procedures, enhanced clarity of responsibility and accountability for both manager and employee, and introduction of the new ESR Business Intelligent (ESR BI) reporting tool.

Marianne Spaans, Head of HR at the RNHRD NHS FT, introduced ESR BI to give the HR department a further platform to enable the development of accurate data and reporting.

Marianne says “The monthly ESR BI service line reports equip managers with up to date and relevant information, which helps them to identify and initiate any actions and identify trends relating to employee relations, such as return to work interviews, sickness absence and health management, and appraisals. This has proved key in assisting managers in the delivery against the Trust key performance indicators as set out in the HR Strategy.

Emily Saad, HR Advisor at the RNHRD NHS FT, and the Trusts ESR lead, attended one of the early ESR BI training sessions to enable her to understand the new ESR BI tool. Emily then worked with people managers across the Trust to design and implement a whole new suite of dashboard reports which captured the relevant data for managers, and crucially increased usability and meaningfulness of the data collected for all levels of management (i.e. AfC band 4 to 9) across the organisation.

Emily explains; Getting people managers on side from the outset was critical to the projects success. Once the new dashboards had been created we asked managers to review the reports and tell us what they liked and did not like, with a particular emphasis on the type and level of information they felt they needed in order to improve the way they manage issues such as sickness absence within their departments.

She continues Initial feedback was encouraging and constructive, for example managers asked for a Special Leave report that had not been included within the initial scope of our new dashboard suite.

Data above used for illustrative purposes only


ESR BI enables the HR team to adapt existing national dashboards to meet RNHRD NHS FT’s business needs. The HR Teams focus will now be on further improving data quality to inform management decision making.

Data above used for illustrative purposes only

Benefits and Achievements

  • Simplified reporting enables easy identification of employee relation issues.
  • It is anticipated that that the tool will assist Management decision making particularly around change management.
  • Data cleansing tool facilitates accurate data management and reporting, and assists with audits.

Marianne adds “Apart from the time freed-up in HR due to the increased efficiencies created by ESR BI, the relevance and usefulness of the data has provided additional benefits to our organisation, such as a reduction of sickness absence of 1.5% in 2013/14 and an improved appraisal completion rate, with current levels on average at 80%.

She continues “I am in no doubt that the increase of local people management activities supported, and in some cases driven by, the improvements provided through the implementaiton of ESR BI reporting, has led to an increase in the RNHRD NHS FTs 2013 NHS National Staff Survey employee engagement score.

Advice for other Trusts

Emily says; “If you want to start using ESR BI but don’t know where to begin, adapt the NHS standard dashboards one stage at a time rather than starting from scratch, as this will build knowledge and confidence - its more about evolution, than revolution.

“During the process of creating reports, we raised many SRs with a range of queries and this support was key to the end product for us – don’t be afraid to raise an SR and talk your requirements over with the ESR helpdesk, the development and support process was quick. By discussing our business needs in relation to BI we are contributing to the on-going development of the national dashboards, and it’s great to know that other NHS organisations can ultimately benefit from our experiences of implementing ESR BI.”

Next steps

The evolvement of the reports is a continuous process for the RNHRD NHS FT and Emily will continue to involve line managers to ensure meaningful and timely reporting and that the reports and consequent actions will continue to underpin the HR and organisational agenda.

For more information

For more information please contact Emily Saad, HR Advisor via email at