Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

Evidencing compliance transforms training operations

A visionary NHS organisation, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (SHFT) were an early adopter of Enterprise Study within the NHS. SHFT have taken the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt’s (and Andrew Lansley before him) push for new and innovative ways of learning to heart and have introduced true blended learning and mobile assessments.


The Leadership, Education and Development team (LEAD) manage the training requirements for the Trust’s internal staff. There is also a commercial string to LEAD’s bow, as they sell training services to other Trusts, other NHS and public sector organisations, and some private sector organisations.

In partnership with the South Central Strategic Health Authority, which employs upwards of 50,000 staff regionally and nationally, SHFT have developed a Mobile Assessments App based on the Assessments Module to enable staff to take assessments anytime, anywhere.

With eLMS as its backbone, SHFt is leading the way and transforming learning within the NHS.

The Client

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (SHFT) has around 8,000 staff across the organisation and is one of the largest NHs trusts in the country.

SHFT specialise in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities and Community Health Services. Not only is the Learning, Education and Development (LEAD) team responsible for internal staff training, but the courses are also ‘commercially’ available to other trusts, healthcare organisations and other parties.

"Audit trails for compliance purposes can be a minefield, a hugely complex task to manage. The number of standards and governing bodies is significant."
Bobby Scott, Associate Director of LEAD

The Business Requirement

The Mental Health and Learning Disability Trust first bought ES some years ago, and then merged with the Community Services Trust. The newly formed organisation needed to merge their two training and ESR databases, and manage training for 8,000 staff across a geographically dispersed region.

SHFT work hard to deliver a blended learning programme for staff that makes it easier for them to acquire the training and skills they need. To this end, they required a learning management system that could handle elearning, video and mobile learning as well as traditional classroom based events.

A particular challenge in the NHS is compliance. Audit trails for compliance purposes can be a minefield, a hugely complex task to manage and potentially costly. The number of standards and governing bodies is significant.

Considering just statutory and mandatory training alone, there can be upwards of 30 training programmes that each member of staff needs to complete before they can begin with their PDP and clinical skills relevant to their role.

Accountability for training lays with the individual, and to an extent their manager, to maintain training and mitigate risk. SHFT’s goal is to make it as easy as possible for staff to acquire the skills they need so that they can focus on the job specific training and personal development.

Historically, teams maintained an excel spreadsheet and updated it manually, but keeping track of 8,000 plus staff this way would prove very costly from an administration point of view.

So SHFT had a very testing set of requirements, even for the most sophisticated learning management system.

The Solution

While a lot of NHS trusts use Oracle Learning Management, Bobby Scott, Associate Director of LEAD was thinking strategically about their requirements, particularly with regards selling training courses externally. Scott choose to future proof SHFT’s investment in their learning management system with ES.

Compliance Manager

Compliance Manager has been invaluable to SHFT who are responsible to a number of governing bodies.

ES enables SHFT to manage their compliance responsibilities effectively, particularly with regards the three most prominent:

  • Care Quality Commission (CQC) – ES allows them to track if initial training requirements have been met, and identity specific standards and training requirements.
  • NHS Litigation Authority – ES allows them to show a full audit trail and minimise risk, thus reducing the cost of insurance.
  • Commissioners (such as GP Practices in the future) – ES allows them to demonstrate that specific set targets for training standards have been met which reduces admin costs and litigation costs.

The automation of email reminders is of particular benefit as staff are just too busy to keep track of when training requires updating, so this feature really helps them.

"Audit trails for compliance purposes are a minefield and without ES it would be a complex it would be a complex process to manage and potentially costly."
Bobby Scott, Associate Director of LEAD

Web Based Access

Staff can access the system online, it does not have to be accessed via a NHS computer, which would mean staff would have to find an available computer on NHS premises. Not easy when most of the staff works out in the community not on NHS premises. Staff can access the system from a library, from home, from anywhere convenient at any time.

Assessment Manager

Staff are given two chances to pass an assessment which assesses whether additional training is required. If they do not pass first time, the staff member is given the option to take the assessment again (if they feel they made an obvious error that they know how to correct) or they can refresh their knowledge via eLearning or Video Learning and retake the test. This greatly reduces unnecessary training costs.

Mobile Assessment App

The Mobile Assessments App is the next arm to the blended learning programme. It works in conjunction with ES Assessment Manager. The Mobile Assessment App negates the need even for a computer and allows an individual to take an assessment using their smart phone.

Blended Learning

The Health & Safety eLearning content is the most up to date in the region, and has been developed by selected experts. SHFT also use Video Learning as part of their blended learning approach, with the aim to minimise face to face training which can be costly both from the resourcing aspect and the cost of staff taking time out.

Certain statutory and mandatory training, such as fire training, evacuation procedure, and health and safety may not warrant a half day out of the office for face to face training. An instructional video to refresh skills is a great way of delivery update training.

ES supports video and elearning, and used in conjunction with Assessment Manager this is a very powerful tool, reducing training costs significantly.

Client Portal

As the emphasis grows on each Trust to be more commercially responsible for its revenue streams, the ability for LEAD to sell their training to other trusts or other organisations is a real, tangible USP of ES. Without ES, if this was managed through the NHS system and the whole booking process would have to be managed manually. SHFT are looking to create Client Portals as a next step, to give external/commercial clients access to their own training booking system that is linked to ES.

The Results

The benefits SHFT have realised through ES are far reaching.

"The Strategic Health Authority has chosen to work with Southern Health Foundation Trust to spearhead contemporary blended learning programmes and drive greater efficiencies and cost savings because of the pioneering way SHFT are approaching their L&D programmes. We couldn’t do it without ES, we wouldn’t have the flexibility or the tools to deliver."

  • Greater accessibility – the majority of staff works out in the community, not on NHS premises, so mobile access means staff can access their learning profile from any convenient computer at any time. This ensures no training is missed, and enables staff to make much more effective use of their time.
  • Reduced insurance premiums – complete and accurate audit trails enable the Trust to prove compliance, mitigate risk and reduce insurance premiums.
  • Satisfied customers – ensuring all staff have the right training leads ultimately to better patient care. In an NHS where there is patient choice, this results in happier ‘customers’.
  • Cost Benefits – this has meant savings for both clinical managers/staff and the trainers, as now travel claims to and from training sessions have reduced, as staff can learn at their computer desk, this is also reduces time away from patients/server users.

A new nurse in Mental Health requires 3 weeks of statutory and mandatory training. The beauty of assessments and a blended learning approach is that the initial training need can be accurately gauged and training can be delivered flexibility. This brings huge time and cost savings.

SHFT are pioneers within the NHS and are working on a Training Passport initiative driven by the SHA to drive greater consistency, and therefore significant cost savings, across the regions. They have pulled together subject experts (across statutory and mandatory training) to develop learning outcomes that are fit for purpose across regions. This will allow individuals to passport their training record from one region to another.

Come April 2013 there will be further changes for NHS Trusts as the Government moves towards a commissioning process where GP practices will be responsible for commissioning services. The onus of responsibility for generating revenue streams will be on the individual trust, so the ability to make training courses commercially available will put SHFT in a strong position and a shining example of how to manage their training for greater ROI.