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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 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 key strategies and workforce policies
  • maintain ongoing engagement and outcomes from the future of NHS HR and the Organisational Design (OD) programme

Progress to date

In August 2022, we started the procurement stage of the programme with the issuing of a contract notice.

There are various phases to this stage of the programme including identifying suppliers, shortlisting suppliers, a period of negotiation and some concept testing and an evaluation of the supplier's solutions.

The first phase, Selection Questionnaire, ended in January 2023 and was where suppliers set out their credentials and experience. This phase allowed us to draw an initial longlist of suppliers to take through to the next phase. The second phase, Invitation to Submit an Initial Tender (ISIT), was launched in July 2023 and will last for several months. This is where suppliers put forward their proposal based on the programme’s requirements.  We'll assess potential suppliers' tender responses against the rigorous procurement criteria. This will result in a shortlist of potential suppliers to continue into the next phase of the procurement process.

We are aiming to award a contract to the successful supplier by spring 2025.

Discovery 3.0: pre-procurement activities and requirements development

As part of this phase, we completed some pre-procurement activities to help support the procurement stage of the programme. This included using the findings from Discovery 1.0 and 2.0 and undertaking engagement exercises with users and stakeholders. 

We completed a deep dive into the 7 functional areas and engaged with key strategic partners and stakeholders to identify the business needs associated with those functional areas. This has helped us identify, understand, refine and validate the user and business needs for the future NHS workforce solution. These will be key in the procurement stage of the programme which is now underway.

Primary care discovery

In parallel with Discovery 3.0, we completed a primary care discovery to further explore the needs for a future NHS workforce solution in primary care, specifically General Practice. We engaged with a range of colleagues from across primary care via survey and online interviews and workshops to understand their needs. The findings of this discovery have been reviewed. Primary care and social care are out of scope for the future NHS workforce solution. However, part of the requirements of the future solution is that it should be scaled to enable future growth. This would enable primary care and social care to be included in the future.

Discovery 2.0: strategic alignment and testing the market

In July 2021, the second phase was launched to align the programme to key NHS workforce impacting strategies and national workforce programmes.  Working with stakeholders across the NHS and government, we clarified key strategic workforce priorities and risks for a future NHS workforce solution.  This helped us make sure the future 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 make the best use of NHS resources.  The themes we found were:

  • 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 has informed the direction of the procurement process and the development of the programme’s business case.

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 seven 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. This was 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 July 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.

Transformation programme roadmap

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

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

Get engaged

Your views are valuable to us. We’re committed to putting users at the heart of the design of the future NHS workforce solution.  We’ll be looking to engage as widely as we can to share information about the programme through a variety of channels.

We’ll be updating this page at key stages throughout the programme with our progress and we'll let you know how you can get involved.

You can receive updates directly to your mailbox by completing our online sign-up form or join us on our FutureNHS collaboration page

Contact us

If you have a question or want to get in touch, you can email the programme team 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. They will continue to support organisations to maximise their use of this system. The enhancement process with ESR special interest groups and other stakeholder forums will continue as normal.