NHS Key Skills Framework

The following information is taken from the Department of Health's document entitled The NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (NHS KSF) and the Development Review Process. If you do not work for the NHS, then you can safely ignore this section!

As the name implies, the NHS Knowledge and Skill Framework defines and describes the knowledge and skills that NHS staff require to do their job. The NHS KSF and the development review process were a key part of the career and pay progression strand of Agenda for Change, which you might remember, back in 2005 resulted in new job descriptions being created and allocated to a specific pay band.

The Department of Health list four main purposes of the NHS KSF:

  1. Facilitate the development of services to meet the needs to users and the public through investing in the development of all members of staff
  2. Support the effective learning and development of individuals and teams
  3. Support the development of individuals in the post in which they are employed
  4. Promote equality and diversity for all staff.

Sounds like your Trust has some work to do eh? It gets better, later on the document states: The NHS KSF and associated development review process is about the NHS investing in the ongoing development of its entire staff in the future. (p.3)

And further on...
'The NHS KSF and the related development review process is essentially about lifelong learning. The National Agreement includes a commitment to annual development reviews for all staff and a commitment to the development of all staff. Everyone will have his or her own personal development plan - developed jointly in discussion with his or her reviewer. Everyone is expected to develop throughout their time working in the NHS.' (p.17)

Since the KSF is an NHS wide framework, it is concerned about the application of knowledge and skills as opposed to the specific knowledge and skills themselves. So, it does not state the drugs that a paramedic needs to administer, but dimension HWB7 highlights the need to be able to prepare and undertake an intervention/treatment. Your KSF job description should take these generalised statements and provide some specific context that you may find easier to identify with.

KSF Dimensions

Still, with the mention of KSF dimensions, we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Lets take a look at how the KSF is structured. It is made up of 30 dimensions, although you will probably only have around 10-14 relating to your role.

The first six are Core Dimensions which relate to all jobs in the NHS. They are:

  1. Communication
  2. Personal and people development
  3. Health, safety, and security
  4. Service Improvement
  5. Quality
  6. Equality and diversity

The other 24 dimensions are specific and as such apply to some, but not all roles in the NHS. Each dimension has four levels, with increasing expectation or sophistication with each level.

For example the level descriptors against dimension 2: Personal and people development are:

  1. Level 1: Contribute to own personal development
  2. Level 2: Develop own skills and knowledge and provide information to others to help their development
  3. Level 3: Develop oneself and contribute to the development of others.
  4. Level 4: Develop oneself and others in areas of practice.

For the role of paramedic, you might expect the following specific dimensions:

  1. HWB2: Assessment and care planning to meet health and wellbeing needs
  2. HWB3: Protection of health and wellbeing
  3. HWB6: Assessment and treatment planning
  4. HWB7: Interventions and treatments
  5. EF1: Systems, vehicles and equipment
  6. EF3: Transport and logistics
  7. IK1: Information processing

Your Service may have some slight variation to this, but it gives you an idea.

Personal Development Reviews

The development review process consists of four stages:

  1. Reviewing how individuals are applying their knowledge and skills to meet the demands of their current post and identifying whether they have any development needs - the demands of the post are described in a NHS KSF outline for the post
  2. Developing a Personal Development Plan for that individual detailing the learning and development to take place in the coming months and the date of the next review
  3. Learning and development for the individual supported by their reviewer
  4. Evaluating the learning and development and reflecting on how it has been applies to work

The review should be undertaken annually with your line manager or other appropriate qualified person. It should not just be a tick box exercise although anecdotally, this is sometimes the case. You can help yourself by doing some preparation, in particular coming up with some form of personal development plan or a SWOT analysis.

Once you have got hold of a copy of your KSF job description, you can use the portfolio builder to keep track of how well you are meeting the dimensions relating to your role.