Electronic Establishments

Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, South East, Acute

The problem

The financial management team at the trust recognised the necessity of implementing an automated solution for managing pay establishments. This was essential to ensure that the organisation’s pay costs were tightly controlled and that only funded positions were being filled. Failing to do so posed an increased financial risk, potentially jeopardising the trust’s financial plans. This solution aimed to provide assurance not only to the financial management team but also to the senior finance team and the board.


The challenge

  • How can we automate the process of providing information on pay establishments to budget managers each month? This includes details such as staff in post, available vacancies, changes in skill mix, and funded full-time equivalents (WTE).
  • How can we reduce the time spent by management accountants manually updating pay establishments for cost centres in Excel spreadsheets every month?
  • How can we create more time for management accountants to engage in value-added activities, such as increasing their outward-facing discussions with budget managers?
  • How can we leverage technology within the finance team to continually enhance our financial systems, processes, and the provision of information to budget holders?
  • How can we ensure that we rigorously manage the organisation’s pay costs by only allowing recruitment for funded positions?
  • How can we establish a clear and auditable governance trail of the recruitment approvals process?
  • How can we foster increased ownership and accountability among budget holders for recruitment decisions and managing their pay budgets?


The outputs

  • Time efficiencies within the finance team, particularly in senior management accountant roles.
  • Systems innovation and automation.
  • Improved working relationships with managers and HR teams.


The outcomes

  • Managers now have almost real-time access to their workforce establishments and can monitor recruitment progress in one centralised location.
  • Reduced time spent by the financial management team on manual creation, updating, and maintenance of Excel establishments.
  • Increased ownership and accountability among budget holders for recruitment and pay budget management.
  • Enhanced reliability of ESR data due to managers having visibility of employee information and the ability to flag issues.
  • More time available for financial management to engage in value-added activities, such as increased business partnering and outward-facing discussions with clinical and corporate divisions.

The Innovation

Read the full innovation

All documents and resources relating to this innovation can be found in the downloads section at the bottom of the page.

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What the peer-reviewers said

“Saving time, enabling easier reconciliation with ESR, improved control for budget holders.”

“Having live establishments available enables finance staff complete their month-end reporting quicker and has wider benefit of helping with vacancy control.”

“This could easily be shared with other trusts who currently use the same ESR and Ledger software combination to save the same amount of finance time.”

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