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  • Writer's pictureRichard Chambury

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust automates HR Data into Totara, integration with PowerBi

About UCLH


UCLH (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), situated in the heart of London, is one of the largest NHS trusts in the United Kingdom and provides first-class acute and specialist services.


·       Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing

·       Hospital for Tropical Diseases

·       Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health

·       National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery

·       Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine

·       Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals

·       University College Hospital

·       University College Hospital at Westmoreland Street

·       University College Hospital Grafton Way Building


Our mission is to deliver top-quality patient care, excellent education and world-class research.

In partnership with University College London (UCL) we are one of the country’s five comprehensive biomedical research centres. We are a member of UCL Partners which brings together some of the UK's world-renowned medical research centres and hospitals.



The Challenge


UCLH faced the challenge of maintaining up-to-date user profiles in Totara by synchronising it daily with their Electronic Staff Records (ESR) database. This synchronization was crucial for ensuring accurate data export into Power BI, which reflected staff mandatory training compliance on a daily basis.


The process involved manually extracting records from the NHS Electronic Staff Records System (ESR) for their 16,000 staff members. Subsequently, extensive data cleansing, formatting, and manual uploads into Totara were required, posing a high risk of errors due to the significant human intervention involved.

Recognising the need for a more streamlined and error-free solution, UCLH sought to integrate Totara with other systems in use within their organisation. This integration aimed to automate the synchronization process, reducing manual intervention and enhancing data accuracy.


By implementing an integrated system, UCLH aimed to ensure seamless data flow between ESR and Totara, facilitating real-time updates of staff profiles and enabling accurate reporting on mandatory training compliance. This strategic initiative would not only mitigate the risk of errors but also optimise operational efficiency, enhancing the quality of staff training and compliance management at UCLH.


The Solution


Collaboration with the Workforce Intelligence team enabled the generation of a daily SQL report, which, when combined within a SQL server with other internal data sources, facilitated the full automation of data cleansing and formatting processes.


This streamlined approach ensured that records remained as accurate as possible, with user profiles linking to internal Totara Audiences to fully reflect assigned training competencies based on the Core Skills Training Framework (CSTF), a mandatory training requirement across the NHS.


To automate the upload of the report into Totara, UCLH partnered with Chambury Learning and implemented their automated HR import plugin via a secure SFTP server. This integration enabled seamless data transfer each 24 hours, ensuring that staff profiles in Totara were continuously updated with the latest and accurate information from the Trust’s ESR database.


The implementation of fully automated data extracts eliminated the need for human intervention in the process, thereby minimizing the potential for data entry errors and ensuring accuracy. By removing manual data entry and correction tasks, the integrity of the data was significantly enhanced. This automation also ensured that the extracted data directly linked back to Trust sources, maintaining alignment with Trust structure and hierarchies.


With this automated approach, data integrity was preserved from extraction to reporting, providing a reliable foundation for decision-making and compliance monitoring.


By leveraging Trust sources for reporting, UCLH could confidently generate reports that accurately reflected the organisation's structure and hierarchies, facilitating informed decision-making at all levels of the organisation in relation to training and education.


Additionally, UCLH implemented Chambury’s bi-directional ESR automated interface that had been developed directly with NHS England, allowing for the transfer of CSTF (Mandatory Training) requirements for staff who had already achieved compliance while working at other organisations. This further enhanced the accuracy and completeness of staff training records within Totara and ensures that, for example, medical staff who have compliance from other NHS Trusts, can deliver their duties without having to repeat compliance training therefore increasing the time spent with patients.


By leveraging these integrated solutions, UCLH is able to export data from a PostGRE SQL Replica Database that runs alongside Totara, into Power BI, a visual data reporting system. This enabled senior managers across the organization to access live, accurate compliance data, empowering informed decision-making and ensuring regulatory requirements were met effectively.


The Results


The implementation of these streamlined processes has yielded remarkable success for UCLH. The Totara Learn platform is now maintained daily with accurate user profiles, including precisely assigned mandatory training requirements aligned with users' roles. Managers benefit from an accurate depiction of their teams, facilitating effective oversight and resource allocation.




Furthermore, the automation has enabled the creation of new user accounts daily, ensuring seamless onboarding processes that are six weeks ahead of their start dates. This proactive approach enhances efficiency and reduces administrative burdens.


Additionally, the ability to export training compliance snapshot data daily via Power BI empowers decision-makers with timely and actionable insights. This real-time visibility into training compliance status allows for proactive interventions and ensures that regulatory requirements are consistently met.

Overall, the successful implementation of these processes has significantly improved data accuracy, operational efficiency, and decision-making capabilities within UCLH.


The establishment of a combined data source enabled the inclusion of key unique identifiers from ESR, facilitating the reconciliation of users with central HR data. This capability supported the seamless portability of training data ahead of new employees' start dates with UCLH, thereby enhancing the onboarding process and ensuring a smoother transition for incoming staff members.



This integration was particularly beneficial for medical and dental staff groups, as they often rotate throughout the NHS. By reconciling users with ESR data, UCLH could ensure that these staff members were not required to repeat competencies they were already compliant with. This addressed a significant challenge and streamlined the onboarding process for medical and dental staff, ultimately improving their experience and reducing administrative burdens.


The implementation of automated processes has resulted in significant time savings and operational efficiencies for UCLH:


Reduced Administration Time: Automation has eliminated the need for manual data entry and reconciliation tasks on a daily basis. This has freed up administrative resources and reduced the burden of repetitive tasks, allowing staff to focus on more strategic initiatives.


Elimination of Redundant Training: New employees who have completed training at other NHS organisations no longer need to repeat competencies they have already completed within the required frequency. This ensures a more efficient onboarding process and avoids unnecessary duplication of training efforts.


Enhanced Compliance Reporting: Previously, compliance reporting was a manual process, consuming valuable administrative time. With automation, compliance data is now exported into Power BI, enabling the creation of live report dashboards. This not only saves time but also provides real-time insights into compliance status, facilitating more informed decision-making and proactive intervention when needed.

Overall, these improvements demonstrate the transformative impact of automation on operational efficiency and compliance management at UCLH.


The automation of data flowing in and out of our Learning Management System (LMS) has provided a number of benefits to UCLH and the wider NHS community.  The intervention has supported the onboarding pathway of our staff and improved the education experience for all UCLH.  It has also enabled our education team to think more strategically on future LMS developments, keeping patient and staff safety at the heart of everything we do.

Matthew Nolan, Head of Education Services at UCLH




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