The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

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the background.

The Royal Marsden, together with its academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) is the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe, treating over 50,000 NHS and private patients every year. It is a centre of excellence with an international reputation for ground-breaking research and pioneering the very latest in cancer treatments and technologies, as well as specialising in cancer diagnosis and education. Services are delivered at three London hospitals as well as community services in Sutton.

the challenge.

The Trust has two separate IT networks, an outsourced IT service and a mix of older and advanced clinical technology systems and computers. Trust employees had very mixed experiences using ESR (the NHS Oracle LMS) due to existing infrastructure, connectivity and the two networks managed by different IT service providers. There was also a need for remote access to be compatible with the schedules of the hospital and community staff so that they could complete their mandatory training at the most convenient time and location.

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increase in compliance.

Achieve a sustained increase in mandatory training compliance for five mandatory training topics of current focus – Fire, Information Governance, Infection Control, Safeguarding Children, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults by the end of March 2016.

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change perceptions.

Ensure e-learning is seen as a valued, relevant and easy to use tool for learning that is widely used to enable skill development and competence assessment, available at the point of need in an easy to use, efficient and effective manner.

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time saving.

Reduce the time spent by staff in the service and the L&D team resolving e-learning access and use issues.

the solution.

Whilst monitoring new developments to the ESR platform, the Trust decided to issue a tender for a new learning management system and after a series of visits and discussions with other hospitals, selected Think Learning to provide a Totara Learn installation called ‘The Learning Hub’.

The Hub needed as a minimum to have online learning available by the end of March 2016, ideally with User Acceptance Testing (UAT) delivered within six weeks, to meet the internal targets set for compliance.

the approach.

The project is taking a multi-phased approach:

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phase 1 – six weeks to User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

Migrate existing mandatory e-learning packages onto the new system and provide access towards the end of the year.

Integrate Active Directory accounts so that learners use their computer login to access the Hub regardless of their location.

Integrate learning completion reporting in existing compliance monitoring system.

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phase 2 – after initial go-live.

Integrate organisational hierarchy and training requirements in preparation for red, amber, green status reporting in parallel with the Trust’s existing reporting system for mandatory learning.

Migration of existing learning records.

Pilot face-face course management using the Totara Learn calendar.

Design and test non-mandatory e-learning courses.

Pilot integration with learning on external learning platforms.

the results.

Think Learning, the Trust and the IT teams from both networks needed to work smoothly to understand and develop realistic expectations to meet the tight timescales involved. The project had a project manager until March 2016 with strong sponsorship from the Trust. The Trust has a well-known brand and it was essential to ensure this was reflected in the system design and development.

The Learning and Development team were working closely with Workforce Intelligence to ensure that the right data in the right systems would match required learning and certifications for the Hub. There were additional challenges working with the internal and outsourced IT partners to ensure that the most secure and appropriate authentication solution could be delivered. Think Learning’ expertise helped steer these conversations productively.

the importance of flexibility.

Think Learning’ NHS and systems experience meant that we could achieve the complex technical requirements whilst fitting with the schedules of IT providers working on multiple projects. We met the UAT milestone in early December and whilst we did not officially go live until January, the stability of the Totara Learn system meant that any learners across the Trust were able to successfully complete and record their learning during UAT including over the Christmas period.

Learners can view a quick visual update with a combination of the progress bar and the learning record that reassures learners they have successfully completed all their learning activities. This means that they don’t repeat modules or assessments unnecessarily.

We co-ordinated learner support with the IT helpdesk to improve reporting and issue resolution so that helpdesk staff are best placed to manage queries, using shared software so that actions are assigned appropriately and issues resolved quickly. Whilst this has not been flawless, there have been very few queries with phase 1 implementation. Ongoing challenges relate to the nature of organisational change and ensuring that the data and accounts match these changes. A new process is being developed so that new starters will be able to complete their online learning prior to their first day.

the benefits.

Since go-live we have significantly improved our compliance rate, whilst providing a better experience for learners including our staff who complete their learning during the night. Increasing update of e-learning for updates is helping to increase capacity and make the best use of internal trainer resources.

Learners are able to access e-learning modules on an external system using code that Think Learning developed so that the learner launches and completes a module as normal whilst the system connects with the Hub behind the scenes. This is an exciting development for future integrations in our learning strategy and linking to our educational provision with the Royal Marsden School and academic partnerships.


A new custom report provides completion data which can be easily uploaded into our compliance reporting tool.


The Trust expects some significant efficiency savings to accrue through a reduction in demand on staff to attend classroom learning, particularly clinical staff.

transform your learning.

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