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Future NHS Workforce Solution Transformation programme

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is leading an NHS-led transformation programme to identify and deliver the Future NHS Workforce Solution.  The Solution will build on the success of the current Electronic Staff Record (ESR) system in support of the NHS People Plan and the wider NHS workforce policies. The programme puts users and stakeholders at the heart of the future NHS Workforce Solution.


  • support effective recruitment, retention and workforce planning within health and care

  • provide workforce services that support the delivery of the NHS People Plan and other workforce policies

  • maintain ongoing engagement and outcomes from The Future of NHS HR and the Organisational Design (OD) programme

Progress to date

We've completed 2 of the initial discovery phases to find out more about our user experiences, strategic alignment and testing the market.  We're currently undertaking the third discovery phase as well as a primary care discovery phase.

Discovery 1.0: user experience and stakeholder engagement

In February 2021, the programme began an initial discovery phase and we completed user research. This helped us develop an understanding of what our NHS people needed in the Future NHS Workforce Solution and identified 7 functional areas:

  • career development
  • compensation and benefits
  • core HR
  • learning
  • payroll
  • performance management
  • talent acquisition

Over a 4 month period, users and stakeholders across the NHS in England and Wales were asked about their experience of ESR.  It’s the largest engagement and listening exercise we’ve done since ESR was first implemented.  We also completed an assessment of the technology and application options, which helped us with requirements for the new solution.  This finished in summer 2021, and the findings from this stage have been used to help inform the next stages of the roadmap and the Future NHS Workforce Solution.

Discovery 2.0: strategic alignment and testing the market

In summer 2021, the second phase was launched to align the programme to key NHS workforce impacting strategies and national workforce programmes.  With key stakeholders across the NHS and government, we clarified key strategic workforce priorities and risks for a future NHS workforce solution.  This will help us make sure the future NHS workforce solution is designed and developed around user needs to meet critical requirements and enable these strategies and programmes. 

The outcomes identified 4 key themes that a future NHS workforce solution would need to support and how to make the best use of NHS resources. The themes we found are:

  • employee experience
  • staff mobility
  • adaptive workforce
  • shared services 

These will be validated through further user and business needs gathering. At the same time, the programme engaged with the supplier market to validate the vision and understand the potential options of delivering the future solution. The insight and understanding gained from this will help inform the direction of the procurement process and the programme's business case development.

Discovery 3.0: pre-procurement activities and requirements development

As part of this phase, we're undertaking pre-procurement activities to help support the procurement stage of the programme. Using the findings from Discovery 1.0 and 2.0 phases, allows a collaborative approach to capture business, user and strategic stakeholder needs.  This involves a deep dive into the 7 functional areas, along with research with key strategic partners and stakeholders.  This will identify high level business needs associated with those functional areas. This will be an ongoing process that started in early 2022 before the procurement stage, which starts in summer 2022.

Primary care discovery

In parallel with Discovery 3.0 we're taking findings from Discovery 1.0 to identify a potential need at a national and local level for a new NHS Workforce Solution within primary care.  This includes GP practices and exploring if an interim solution is feasible and needed. Discovery work on this has started and we're engaging with colleagues from across primary care to help understand the potential need for this. 

We recently invited primary care colleagues to complete a workforce service tools survey, to help us understand their needs and experiences.

The road ahead

When the discovery phases and pre-procurement activities of the programme are completed, we'll be able to start the procurement process.

Procurement stage

In summer 2022, we'll start our procurement activities.  This stage of the programme will engage with the supplier market and complete deliverables to support the wider procurement activities needed.

Transformation programme roadmap

The table shows the key stages in our roadmap that we're working towards.

Spring 2022 We’ll have completed the discovery projects to validate business, user and stakeholder needs, initial supplier market engagement and pre-procurement activities.
Easter 2022 We'll have completed our engagement survey with primary care colleagues to understand how feasible an interim solution is.
Summer 2022 We’ll have started the procurement project using the outcomes from our Discovery stage projects.
Summer 2024 We’ll aim to complete a procurement project.
Autumn 2024 We’ll start transformation planning to inform the timescales for the delivery of the transformed future service. Service design and implementation planning will allow us to commence the transformation activities.

Engaging user and business needs

We want to make sure that we gain an understanding of the future needs and requirements of our diverse user base of ESR. Our programme partners are reaching out to a wide range of users, including those who use ESR:

  • for themselves as employees
  • on behalf of others, such as a manager
  • to deliver and maintain ESR services as professionals, such as HR and payroll

This will allow the team to capture a broad range of experiences of using ESR from clinical and non-clinical employees, managers, IT and administrative users. A representative sample of ESR Leads from user organisations across England and Wales have been invited to take part during the Discovery stage projects.

Everyone’s views are valuable to us, which is why we're engaging with as many users and user types as possible using surveys and other engagement methods. There will be more opportunities to get involved in the future as the programme evolves and you can contact us at:

Existing NHSBSA ESR service

The NHSBSA ESR service team will continue to enhance the current ESR solution to improve the capability and user experience for its users. They will continue to support organisations to maximise their use of the current ESR solution. The enhancement process with ESR special interest groups and other stakeholder forums will continue as normal.  

Contact us

To keep you up to date with progress, we'll be updating this page at key stages.  We'll also share updates with our stakeholders using our usual communication channels.

If you have a question or want to get involved in focus groups and workshops, you can email the NHSBSA discovery project team at: