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Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust drives compliance with an innovative LMS-ESR interface

The Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is an NHS Foundation Trust located in South Yorkshire, England. Their vision is to be recognized as the best provider of health, clinical research and education in the UK and a strong contributor to the aspiration of Sheffield to be a vibrant and healthy city region.

The Challenge

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust comprises 18,000+ clinical staff and is a lead employer for approximately 1,000 doctors in training, who rotate around other NHS Trusts in the region. All employees have very different backgrounds and learning requirements which Totara facilitates for them.

They have been happily using a well-embedded Totara Learn platform hosting local content and eLearning for healthcare (eLfH) for many years.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, like 99% of other NHS organizations, uses the free Electronic Staff Record (ESR) – an integrated HR and payroll system. It manages core HR and payroll for approximately 1.4 million NHS employees.

Integrated into the ESR is the Oracle learning platform (OLM), a free learning management system providing a catalog of classroom-based and e-learning courses. It includes the functionality to enable CSTF (Core Skills Training Framework) competencies to be allocated to staff based on their role within the organization.

Prior to implementing Totara in 2012, the Trust was using this ESR OLM platform, which does not facilitate local recording and centralized reporting of training and neither were volunteers’ or other “non-staff” profiles able to be set up. Also, the NHS OLM is insufficiently flexible to maintain complex competency requirement profiles for employees across positions and organizations with very different training requirements across the various directorates. Consequently, there wasn’t a single system in place for getting accurate information on who had completed training reported to managers or the board.

ESR is the main system for transferring competencies alongside employment records, but as STH use Totara as their LMS, and it is here that competency information needs to be recorded, as it is common for NHS staff to rotate across and between organizations (such as junior medical staff), and some employees work across two organizations.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust therefore needed an elegant way to connect their ESR with their LMS to transfer mandatory compliance training data from the CSTF between organizations, which would help avoid staff repeating training unnecessarily to save time and resources.

The Solution

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust partnered with Chambury Learning Solutions as part of the NHS Streamlining project, owing to Chambury’s expertise in the healthcare sector, and specifically within the NHS.

Chambury Learning Solutions understood Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s need to build an effective interface between their Totara Learn platform and the ESR.

This meant working with the Trust itself, NHS England, NHS Improvement and the central ESR Systems Integration team to create a solution that would minimize unnecessary admin work and duplication of efforts for busy NHS staff.

The bi-directional interface provides data warehousing of all Totara CSTF data and external learning outcomes from eLfH content into the ESR without any administrator intervention to save time and effort, along with eliminating the risk of human error.

While this interface was developed at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust according to their unique use case, it has also been adopted by other Trusts, such as Hull Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and York & Scarborough Hospitals NHS Trust. Each Trust has its own nuances and ways of working, so alongside Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, other Trusts took on the interface and were able to test a range of different scenarios to maximize the value of the solution. With data from the initial three Trusts, Chambury Learning Solutions was able to genericize the findings to build an interface that could be used across a wide range of NHS Trusts.

For instance, one of the findings in the testing process was that competencies were initially being exported that did not match local renewal periods or had incorrect expiry/due dates, meaning the interface had to work out what that correct completion and due dates should be.

The interface provides flexible configuration options to enable local processes, making this an incredibly robust, adaptable solution that can potentially be rolled out across many NHS Trusts.

Alongside the ESR interface, the Trust also integrate directly with eLearning for Healthcare (eLfH) using AICC to enable national content from the NHS, which contains over 6,000 learning packages designed for non-clinical, clinical and medical staff that are all free to use for NHS Trusts. The eLfH AICC integration means that NHS employees can access centralized training seamlessly within Totara anytime, anywhere, and enables full reporting both in Totara and also for eLfH on their internal systems.

The Results

“Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is delighted with the interface which has proved to be extremely cost effective in automating processes for the central team. Because training records of new starters, including doctors on rotation, is uploaded automatically, leaders and managers have assurance from day one that patient safety isn’t compromised, and individuals are not asked complete training unnecessarily. Totara works beautifully for the Trust, and this interface has further embedded Totara into our core organizational process and systems.”
– Alison Hales, Head of People Development, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Chambury Learning’s bi-directional NHS ESR – Totara Learn CSTF interface is already proving hugely beneficial for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The interface enables the easier onboarding of new starters and rotational medical staff, ensuring that they meet their induction training requirements, which is time and cost intensive.

The ability to migrate CSTF training records between NHS Trusts also makes it faster to get new employees onto wards and improves compliance and safety.

A huge benefit of this solution is that the import and export of competency and certification completions takes place between Totara and the ESR every night, without the need for any human intervention.

The time savings of this interface are enormous – if all medical staff arrive with fully completed CSTF courses, the time saved by having the doctors “on the wards” on day one of their employment, instead of repeating core training over a year, equates to approximately 500 extra days which doctors can spend at the patient’s bedside improving care and, ultimately, patient safety.

On top of this, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is enjoying improved compliance across all CSTF-aligned certifications, improved new starter processes and improved flow of data between other organizations.

In addition to the ESR interface, staff can update their CSTF compliance and national NHS-specific training content through the eLearning for Healthcare modules embedded into their Totara Learn LMS, resulting in improved learning outcomes, simple access to learning for staff and, importantly, an ever-increasing catalog of content the trust can use at no additional cost.

Since May 2021 through to February 2022, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has transferred a massive 150,000 competencies between Totara and the ESR – approximately eight per person, and the impact of these time savings will only increase over time as employees continue to transfer between NHS organizations.

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