Must be doing something right…..

We launched the VLE just over four months ago – and it’s so nice to be capturing all the activity and have confidence that everything is actually progressing. Aside from that, we’re getting good feedback from the organisation.

The real big bonus for me is that we’ve been able to withdraw the staffing from the Induction sessions. Before this, we’ve always had to put a staff member into the same PC training room which our Induction e-learning sessions were taking place, but now that we have a simple, easy to use system, we’re able to withdraw the staffing from the rooms, and support from distance.

All of this is really good – but what’s really surprised me was the positive feedback we’ve had from outside of the organisation. We’ve had visitors from a number of other NHS Trusts who have come to see how we’ve set things up. It’s really nice to share the knowledge and experiences of what we’ve done, but also quite nice to hear people telling me that they’ve spend three or four times what we have and have yet to achieve anything near to what we have.

The NHS has frequently been criticised for some of it’s national IT programmes – which is a real shame as they had the potential to really change healthcare services, both front line and staff sided, however too frequently these programmes have failed to deliver. One of the few which has worked, but never gets the publicity (due to the fact it’s staff-sided, rather than patient-facing) is the Electronic Staff Record. To have a single HR system which holds the HR, Pay and Education data of 1.4 million employees is no mean feat, and whilst it isn’t without it’s issues, it does deliver on a scale most systems could only dream of.

However, as with many systems of this scale, it has it’s issues. The main one with ESR is that the functionality has been seriously limited to ensure it’s consistency – but this comes at the expense of user experience. ESR is not a simple system to use, and unfortunately, the flaws can outweigh the benefits.

So what have we done that’s so good? We’ve taken the positive points from the ESR system (which in our case was the course booking functionality), and wrapped that in a Moodle offering, which makes the system much more user friendly and provides a massive step forward in functionality. The end result is still a system which provides a good user experience whilst still utilising most of the national functionality. The only thing we haven’t done is to utilise the NLMS (National Learning Management System) functionality, and the reason for that was the inconsistencies we had with the tracking. Too frequently we found that the “national content” wasn’t tracking properly – and we couldn’t risk the fact that our staff would take time to complete content, then find that it hadn’t tracked.

If this tracking issue could be resolved, there would be a real argument in favour of using the NLMS as the Learning Management System. However it still needs something to wrap it up and make it user friendly.

My only question – is why are the NHS central team not spending the small amount of money to centrally create something to wrap the existing functionality – then making this available to all organisations?? It would cost almost nothing – but would make the education experiences of 1.4 million people so much better!