Dr Maze


regular comment for managers on workplace health issues

The Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) and Agenda for Change (AfC)

Ursula Doherty, AfC Unit, DHSSPS

Agenda for Change and the KSF

The HR Challenge for 2005 is in implementing Agenda for Change – the new integrated pay and learning system for all staff.  My wish is that this should be successful, to the benefit of staff and patients alike. Andrew Foster, Director of Human Resources, DOH in People Management

 The Vision – Six of the highest ranking employee needs*:

  •  Understanding what is expected in the job:

Clear information about how each post fits into the wider NHS/HPSS structure and about the knowledge and skills required from new recruits and experienced staff members in each role – with specific examples of how these should be applied.

  • Opportunities to “do what I do best”

The opportunity to demonstrate and discuss personal strengths and aspirations and to explore how these talents can be unlocked and developed within current or future roles

  • Encouragement of development:

A universal recognition that all staff are entitled to development opportunities either within their current posts or help for them to achieve career development – and that managers and organisations have a duty to support this principle

  • Regular reviews of progress

Structured feedback using an objective framework for all staff to enable any difficulties to be identified and resolved  before they become major problems.  The opportunity for staff to highlight their own development needs

  • Co-workers committed to quality

The knowledge that everyone will be expected to fulfil the requirements of their post, including the core dimensions and that action will be taken to ensure that this happens 

  • Opportunities to learn & grow

A culture which allows people to develop flexibly as individuals, recognising that there are many alternative career pathways and timescales, and that skills and knowledge can be acquired in many ways and are often transferable

How can the KSF help?

  • A KSF Outline for every post
  • A Development Review at least once a year
  • A Personal Development Plan
  • Support in fulfilling the PDP
  • Access to KSF Outlines at recruitment and in career planning
  • Focussed Development for Everyone

Purpose – The KSF is designed to

  • support the development of individuals in their current post
  • support career progression
  • facilitate the development of better services

What it is:

  • Defines and describes the Knowledge and Skills that HPSS staff need to apply to their work in order to deliver quality services
  • Provides a framework on which to base the review and development of all staff
  • Applicable and transferable across NHS/HPSS

What it is not:

  • It does not seek to describe what people are like or their particular attributes
  • It does not describe the exact knowledge and skills that people need to develop
  • It does not determine job weight or pay band


  • KSF Post Outlines – set out the dimensions and levels that apply to a post
  • Dimensions ­- broad functions that are required to provide a quality service
  • Level Descriptors ­- each dimension has 4 levels, a level descriptor is simply the title of each level
  • Indicators – describe how knowledge and skills need to be applied at that level
  • Examples of Application – show how the KSF might be applied in different posts
  • Gateways – defined points where decisions are made about pay progression as well as development

Structure of the KSF – 30 Dimensions

6 of which are core and apply to every post

  • Communication
  • Personal and People Development
  • Health, Safety and Security
  • Service Improvement
  • Quality
  • Equality and Diversity

24 of which are specific, a selection of which will apply to each post

  • Health and Well-being (10 dimensions)
  • Estates and Facilities (3 dimensions)
  • Information and Knowledge (3 dimensions)
  • General (8 dimensions)

Example of Specific Dimensions

  • HWB 7 – Interventions and Treatments
  • EF2 – Environments and Buildings
  • IK2 – Information collection and analysis
  • G5 – Services and Project Management


  • The KSF must be fully implemented for all staff by December 2006 with all gateways fully operational
  • Outlines and Development Review therefore needs to be in place by December 2005
  • All HPSS organisations have KSF Leads and an implementation plan
  • KSF Outlines are being developed and shared via the National Library
  • The e-ksf tool has been designed specifically for the NHS/HPSS
  • KSF web pages

The KSF provides a structure for development

  • but users need skills to have PDP discussions and identify learning needs and plans
  • the organisation needs policies about how to implement and embed the KSF
  • and the organisational culture needs to embrace change and value learning and development

So what will this mean for the NHS/HPSS?

  • Better recruitment
  • Better retention
  • Better morale
  • Better productivity
  • Better quality

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