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National Workforce Data Set (NWD) guidance documents

These guidance documents have been produced for organisations that use the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) and/or employ NHS staff. They provide guidance on the use of key data items from the National Workforce Data set (NWD) to enable those using ESR to make informed coding decisions and improve data quality. They are intended to be 'living' documents which will be reviewed and updated as required, and we welcome feedback and ideas for development.

Agreed Definitions

The following definitions have been developed and agreed by various sub-groups of the Workforce Information Review Group (WIRG) and agreed by WIRG itself. WIRG includes, but is not limited to, representatives from various bodies including the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I); Health Education England (HEE); NHS Trusts; NHS Digital; the ESR Central Team; NHS Wales; NHS Jobs and NHS Employers. These definitions have the support of the bodies represented on WIRG and are intended to provide a consistent basis for the analysis and reporting of the specific aspects of the healthcare workforce to which they relate.

As further definitions are agreed, they will be added to this page and any uplifts to the data standard will be reflected in updates to the agreed definitions to ensure that they remain current.

Mental Health Workforce

NHS Mental Health Workforce Definition

A Guide to the Staff Group, Job Role and Area of Work classifications used in ESR

This document provides guidance on the usage of Staff Group, Job Role and Area of Work values as determined by the National Workforce Data set (NWD) and made available in the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) and other systems. This guidance has been developed from and replaces the ESR document 'A Guide to Job Roles, Staff Groups and Areas of Work' which was last published in August 2004.

This new document is intended as an enhanced guidance tool, containing basic information regarding the principles and definitions of the relevant values as well as contextual detail.

IAPT Workforce Coding Manual

There is increasing interest in workforce information, especially for Mental Health / IAPT services, so the need for consistent and available data to support meaningful workforce planning is paramount. However, information is only as good as the data which is input and the systems and standards which are used to capture it; therefore, we need to work together to maximise the quality of the data with what we have available to us.

Additionally, achieving good quality workforce information in the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) and the workforce Minimum Data Set (wMDS) will reduce the need for separate workforce related data collections about IAPT services which will reduce burden on individual organisations.

The NHS Long Term Plan identified mental health services as a key priority for future investment and service development. The role of workforce planning will be key to delivering this expansion, by ensuing that there is a mental health workforce with the right skills and values in the right place at the right time to meet the needs of our population. 

High quality workforce information will be essential to ensure that workforce, service and finance plans are based on the best available evidence. Detailed information on staff employed in the NHS and those delivering NHS commissioned services in the independent sector is required. To ensure that workforce information systems have the capacity to capture the whole mental health workforce, including new roles, NHS Digital has been co-ordinating work to develop enhanced codes and recording options.

Therefore, organisations and partners are encouraged to make every effort to ensure that workforce information systems, particularly the Electronic Staff Record (ESR), take full account of the latest coding guidance to ensure that workforce and service planning decisions at national, regional and local levels are underpinned by the highest quality and most up to date information.

The broader Mental Health Workforce Coding Guidance which will cover all Mental Health services other than IAPT is planned for development and will be published once complete.

This guidance should provide the information required by ESR end users and users of the wMDS, to correctly code those staff working in the Adult IAPT service team, for further guidance or clarification, please contact the Data Quality and Data Standards Team at NHS Digital via We also welcome any comments, questions or suggestions for additions to this document. 

IAPT Workforce Coding Manual v2.0

Occupation Code and Job Role Data Verifier

The ESR Central Team has developed a report which allows organisations to review and validate Occupation Code, Pay Grade and Job role combinations held within ESR.

The report is available via ESR Business Intelligence (BI) and an Excel version of the verifier background tables can also be accessed here: Occupational Code and Job Role Verifier Tables

Both of these tools have been updated to reflect the NWD 3.2 changes

A version of the report can also be found in the Data Warehouse to be used at a national level.

The BI Report should be used in conjunction with other available guidance to check that appropriate Occupation Code, Job Role and Pay Band combinations are allocated to Positions.

If you have any questions with regards to the Occupation Code to Job Role mapping used in the verifier please contact the Workforce team at NHS Digital via quoting 'Occupation Code Verifier' in your subject line.

Allied Health Professions Area of Work Framework

The framework was developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to improve the recording of AHP staff on ESR.

Categorising all AHP staff against the Area of Work options identified within this framework will enable staff records to be appropriately included in local and national workforce planning and analysis.

This framework provides a consistent approach which will enable accurate AHP speciality data within the Model Health System and allow reliable benchmarking between organisations.

Allied Health Professions Area of Work Framework v1.0

Healthcare Science Guidance Document

The values for Healthcare Science (HCS) have recently changed and all organisations that employ Healthcare Science staff will need to audit and amend their records on ESR accordingly. These new HCS classifications were introduced into ESR in release 21 at the end of December 2013 and the old values will no longer be available for selection. The new classifications should be applied to existing Positions as soon as possible and with effect from 1 January 2014. The HSCIC will be monitoring the uptake of the new coding scheme from March 2014 until it is fully implemented.

More detail regarding the changes to the ESR in response to these updates to the data standard are available in UN1828, available through ESR Kbase.

Two guidance documents have been published to help with this process;

1) The Healthcare Science Indicative Job Title Guidance document. This contains a list of indicative Job Titles which reflect roles undertaken in Healthcare Science and the recommended Job Role, Area of Work and Occupation Code values.

Healthcare Science Indicative Job Title Coding Guidance v2

2) The Guide to Healthcare Science Workforce Classifications used in ESR.This contains guidance on the usage of Staff Group, Job Role, Area of Work and Occupation Code values for Healthcare Science staff as determined by the National Workforce Data Set (NWD) and made available in the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) and other systems. It is intended to tie together all other elements of the guidance and we particularly welcome comments on this document which can be incorporated into future updates.

A Guide to Healthcare Science Workforce Classifications used in ESR v2

These guidance documents are intended to be 'living' documents which will be reviewed and updated as required. The HSCIC welcomes any comments, questions and suggestions for additions to these documents. Please get in touch with the HSCIC Workforce team via quoting 'Healthcare Science Guidance documents' in your subject line.

Informatics Area of Work guidance

Using the Health Informatics Career Framework as a foundation, a new set of Area of Work values have been approved for use in the National Workforce Data set (NWD) by the Information Standards Board. This document provides guidance on how to apply the new values for those inputting records on ESR.

Informatics Area of Work Guidance v2.2

Data Standards Implementation Table

This document allows the user to see the changes made to the Data Standard from the first NHS Occupation Code Manual and National Workforce Data Set Specification (NWD) to present day, including the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) implementation dates. It details the addition of, and any subsequent changes to, each data value within the NWD.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the Data Standards Implementation Table, please contact the Data Quality and Data Standards Team at NHS Digital via quoting ‘Data Standards Implementation Table’ in your subject line.

Data Standards Implementation Table v1.0

Last edited: 2 February 2022 5:17 pm