Whittington Health Case Study

A Case Study from Whittington Health

ESR - Our Journey


Whittington Health serves a catchment population of circa 440,000 people and employs over 4,000 staff.

Our organisation came late to ESR being part of the final wave (12) that went live in April 2008. Our ESR journey could have been a short one but in late 2009 Whittington Hospital (latterly Whittington Health) determined to get full value from almost every aspect of ESR.

We joined the UCL Partnership pilot of the London Deanery Interface with ESR just before go-live in 2011. We were one of the first London organisations to adopt the Occupational Health functionality and we went from one of the smallest e-Learning users in the country to consistently featuring as one of the top performing London and National users in terms of course completions.

We were the first acute organisation to fully implement Manager Self Service in London and we were the first (and currently only) merged acute and community organisation to fully implement Manager Self Service.

The Project

Chris Brown, ESR Manager (pictured right) explains: “The project has been very much an on-going process which commenced in January 2010 with the Board ratifying the proposal to roll out ESR Manager and Supervisor Self Service across Whittington Hospital. Following the success and benefits achieved through this initial roll out it was clear that the project should develop further, and with continuing support at Executive level, despite a major organisational change process that began in April 2011, this has been achieved.

It was clear that the development of ESR offered a significant opportunity to streamline much of the transactional activity that occurs between managers, HR and Finance and this would provide a more efficient and cost effective process for the Trust. Furthermore following the establishment of Whittington Health in April 2011, which saw a merger of Haringey and Islington community services with Whittington Hospital we quickly realised that the Learning Management element of ESR would provide us with a platform for bringing together induction and other learning requirements for the newly established organisation.

From these two main elements the project has continued to develop with the roll out of employee Self Service across the Trust. In addition the project has sought to embrace and pioneer the external interfaces notably the Deanery, Occupational Health and UIM”.


The management of the project from its inception has been tightly controlled. A detailed Project Initiation Document (PID) was initially approved, demonstrating the benefits forrolling out ESR Manager and Supervisor Self Service and included project timelines and the additional resources required to appoint an ESR Project Manager.

“The Operations Management Team identified the managers for the initial pilot areas and training throughout the project was done on an individual or small group basis to offer a bespoke personal service to all of the departments, this provided managers with reassurance that their views and suggestions would be considered during the implementation for their department.

Once it became clear that ESR development presented additional benefits to the newly established Whittington Health, in April 2011 further PIDs were generated and approved by the Executive Committee, firstly to extend the roll out of Manager Self Service and latterly to extend access to ESR across the entire organisation by rolling out Employee Self Service”.

To oversee the various projects an ESR Project Board was established chaired by the Director of People and including representatives from HR, Learning & Development, Finance and initially IT.

Benefits and Achievements

The benefits derived from seeking to use ESR to its maximum potential have been significant and tangible;

  • In January 2013 Whittington Health combined the previously separate functions of HR Transactional Services and Payroll to create Employee Services. This department is now responsible for the entire ESR transactional process after a successful applicant has been recruited. This has meant streamlining the number of departments employees have to deal with in terms of pay related queries.
  • In terms of Manager and Supervisor Self Service roll out there has been a considerable streamlining of transactional activity. Presently circa 5,000 absence episodes are being entered by Self Service users each month which has significantly improved the accuracy and timeliness of the data. In addition, between 150 and 200 assignment changes and terminations are now completed via Self Service per month, which combined with the absence data has generated efficiencies within the HR and Payroll teams and has directly affected the bottom line. The introduction of Manager Self Service has coincided with a reduction in overpayments to staff to the tune of £78k over the past year with the savings helping the overall financial position of the Trust.
  • The roll-out of Manager and Administrator Self Service has helped to drive down Sickness Absence rates. Local entry within departments has meant more accurate recording in terms of identifying previous errors (e.g. multiple entries for single absence episodes). This supplemented by the introduction of the Absence Calendar overview and the striking looking Absence dashboards available within ESR BI has greatly helped with the monitoring of absence. The local entry of 5,000 absence episodes per month (Annual Leave, Special leave, Unpaid, Training and Sickness) has saved duplication of entry by the Payroll Team.
  • Completion of Assignment changes via Manager Self Service has driven savings in not only in terms or reduced administration but in terms of the timely completion of staff terminations and the ending of fixed term contracts etc.
  • The roll-out of Self Service and the local entry of Appraisal Dates (and some content) by Managers has not only driven up recorded appraisal completion from 28% to 76% in 12 months but has also freed up central resource in terms of them not having to enter the appraisals on ESR.
  • The learning element of ESR enabled Whittington Health to revamp its induction programme at the end of 2011 with a view to providing a more flexible accessible programme for new employees. E-Learning was introduced as the main method of delivery for many subjects in the induction and refresher training for staff across the organisation. In December 2011 only 2% of e-Learning activity was taking place. Twelve months later, over 3,500 e-Learning modules are being completed across the organisation, representing 51% of activity. This is an incredible achievement in twelve months considering many challenges, such as technological difficulties and IT infrastructure, access to computers, some staff with limited ICT skills, cultural and organisational change in terms of behaviour and attitudes.
  • The roll-out of e-Learning has also driven mandatory compliance rates up to 83%.
  • The roll-out of Employee Self Service is helping to create an inclusive approach to traditional HR functions. Currently around 300 changes are made via Employee Self Service by employees with access available to permanent staff, junior doctors and bank staff.aining and Sickness) has saved duplication of entry by the Payroll Team.

Advice for other Trusts

    Chris says: "Employee Self Service is now so easy to implement and the benefits so obvious that the decision to implement should be a given. The NHS Central Teams' determination to remove Smartcard access for Employee Self Service meant our implementation took 6 months instead of the projected 12 and the final 40% of users were activated in two weeks.

      The work involved in the setting up of usernames and passwords with the Employee Self Service URP is performed by the NHS Central Team and going forward turning on Auto-User creation for new starter's means that maintenance is kept to a minimum. For staff there are a number of immediate benefits to ESS; they become responsible for their personal information such as address and contact details, they have the ability to view payslips online, see their training and absence histories, and receive notifications relating to medical registration expiry dates, plus much more. ESS provides a great opportunity to empower individuals, and for any organisation striving to improve staff engagement.

        If we can implement Manager Self Service then any organisation can. By that I mean that the ability to stay focussed on the goal of implementation and acceptance that the NHS is almost always in a state of flux, with never an optimum time to implement means that even an organisation in the throws of an Acute and Community merger can complete an implementation when hierarchies are changing often".

          Pre-requisites for implementation include - clearly defined goals, Exec buy-in with continued support, a dedicated ESR Project Manager/Product Specialist, a flexible approach to training and engagement from the outset of your RA and IT personnel.

          The Future

          We are working towards exploiting further potential benefits from making more extensive use of competencies - including competency matching, and we, like many other organisations are looking forward greatly to seeing what new functionality is afforded by ESR 2 in 2014.