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FAQs: The KSF  

 
These frequently asked questions (FAQs) cover the most commonly asked questions on the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF).

These FAQs have been agreed by the NHS Staff Council that has representatives of both the NHS trade unions and NHS organisations. The same FAQs are also available in a document on this page.

  • 1 How can we implement the KSF in partnership if there are very few staff-side representatives in the organisation?
  • 2 What should an organisation do if it has a lack of appraisal skills amongst reviewers, making it difficult to implement the development review process?
  • 3 Why do organisations need to monitor the implementation of the KSF?
  • 4 If an individual has two different part-time jobs in the NHS will they need two KSF post outlines?
  • 5 Does the KSF post outline determine the pay band?
  • 6 Once an individual has met or exceeded their KSF post outline will they move automatically to the next pay band?
  • 7 What occurs if the objectives within the personal development plan are not achieved within the agreed period of time due to unforeseeable circumstances?
  • 8 What happens if a member of staff does not get organisational support for their development and this affects their ability to go through a gateway?
  • 9 Can an organisation restrict the number of individuals who can progress through a gateway at any one time?
  • 10 What if the individual and their reviewer are unable to reach agreement?
  • 11 If an individual meets their full KSF post outline before the second pay gateway are they able to move up the pay spine? 
  • 12 When an individual is seconded into a different post in their organisation, what will happen to their KSF pay gateway reviews?
  • 13 I am subject to a preceptorship year; does this mean that I will have two foundation gateways?
  • 14 Is it possible to use the KSF development review process to defer pay progression at times outside of the gateways?
  • 15 How does the KSF link to the revalidation of health care professionals?
  • 16 How does the KSF support clinical governance?
  • 17 How will the KSF help boards deal with the new Corporate Manslaughter legislation?
  • 18 Do organisations need to develop their own local competences to implement the KSF?
  • 19 How are other national competence frameworks linked to the KSF?
  • 20 Does the KSF apply to Foundation Trusts?
  • 1 How can we implement the KSF in partnership if there are very few staff-side representatives in the organisation?

    Partnership is an important part of the process and it is vital to make sure that every effort is made to engage both staff and management side representatives, where there are difficulties in identifying staff side representatives, the relevant full time officers may be invited to assist.

    Where it is not possible to have direct involvement of both sides at every stage of the process, the lack of representatives from one particular side should not delay the roll-out of the KSF. Where this situation arises, both sides should be involved in agreeing the overall processes that will be used to develop, update and agree KSF outlines, even though representatives from both sides may not be directly involved at every subsequent stage.

    When developing KSF post outlines it is most important that the staff who actually do the jobs are involved.

    2 What should an organisation do if it has a lack of appraisal skills amongst reviewers, making it difficult to implement the development review process?

    The easiest way to address this is to:

    • prioritise the development of KSF post outlines for managers, in particular the people management dimension G6 and seek to complete their development reviews to address this issue
    • provide learning opportunities for managers to develop their appraisal skills as an organisational priority
    • review the number of people who have line management responsibility and ensure that they have sufficient time to undertake the development review process for their members of staff.

    3 Why do organisations need to monitor the implementation of the KSF?

    Monitoring implementation is one part of the Agenda for Change pay agreement at both national and local level. The purpose of monitoring is to ensure that all NHS staff are being paid on equal pay principles and have the same terms and conditions of service. One of these is the right to learning and development in the post to help staff undertake their work effectively.

    The KSF is also the mechanism by which pay progression operates within the NHS and it is vital that this is fair and equitable. Organisations will wish to ensure that pay progression is working well for all of its staff groups and to identify any internal problems that might indicate governance issues.

    National monitoring is necessary to ensure that all NHS organisations are abiding by the principles and nature of the Agenda for Change pay agreement.

    4 If an individual has two different part-time jobs in the NHS will they need two KSF post outlines?

    Yes, they will have a KSF post outline for each post however many hours worked in that post.

    5 Does the KSF post outline determine the pay band?

    No, the pay band of any post is set by application of the NHS Job Evaluation scheme.

    6 Once an individual has met or exceeded their KSF post outline will they move automatically to the next pay band?

    No. The KSF post outline sets out the knowledge and skills required for that job. If an individual has knowledge, skills and competencies beyond those needed in their post they will not receive any additional financial reward as they do not need to apply them to undertake that role. They may however decide to apply for a post in a higher payband using their additional knowledge and skills as one way of demonstrating their suitability during the selection process. Once the KSF outline for a post has been fulfilled, future development opportunities may be targeted at development relevant to the individuals future career, as well as maintaining the skills required in the current post.

    Postholders in jobs subject to the application of Annex T of the Agenda for Change handbook 'Development of professional roles' move between pay bands

    5 and 6. It is important to note that this is connected with an increase in the levels of autonomy required for the post over a clearly identified period of time, and is not linked to fulfilment of the KSF outline.

    7 What occurs if the objectives within the personal development plan are not achieved within the agreed period of time due to unforeseeable circumstances?

    This will partly depend on the year in question and also the nature of the unforeseeable circumstances. A general rule is that Personal Development Plans (PDPs) should be realistic and focus on the development that can take place in a year but also taking into account that the required development might take a number of years. The non-completion of a PDP should be seen as an exception rather than the norm.

    Every effort should be made by both the organisation and the individual to achieve the jointly agreed PDP as it is essential in helping individuals to work more effectively. In certain circumstances it will be possible to carry over part of the PDP to the following year if this is in between gateway points. Both the organisation and the individual should consider the consequences of not meeting PDP objectives in the year in which a gateway review occurs as this has more serious consequences based on the principles of 'no surprises'.

    8 What happens if a member of staff does not get organisational support for their development and this affects their ability to go through a gateway?

    Organisations must

    • provide members of staff with a KSF post outline relevant to their job;
    • jointly undertake a KSF development review to identify any gaps in the individual's knowledge and skills;
    • agree a personal development plan; and
    • give support to the individual in this development.

    This will need to be planned so that individuals have sufficient time to develop the required knowledge and skills prior to them reaching a gateway. Organisations that do not do this are in breach of the national Agenda for Change agreement and will also be missing the opportunity to enable their staff to deliver better quality healthcare.

    When it comes to a gateway point if, for any reason, the individual and organisation jointly agree that it is the organisation that has not met its responsibilities, the individual will automatically progress through the gateway and the nature of the progression (for example, by organisational default) must be clearly recorded. Learning and development to meet the identified needs must still be arranged as soon as possible.

    9 Can an organisation restrict the number of individuals who can progress through a gateway at any one time?

    No. This is contrary to the national Agenda for Change Agreement. Organisations are monitored to ensure that all staff have the opportunity to progress through gateways at the time and under the conditions that have been agreed.

    10 What if the individual and their reviewer are unable to reach agreement?

    If a member of staff and their reviewer cannot agree, either one has the right to seek support on an informal local basis from a third party, for example, the human resource department or a trade union representative. The third party representative may request further information from either the reviewer or the member of staff. They must look at the information and make an objective decision that is non-discriminatory.

    If this informal process cannot address the problem, then the member of staff can take their case through local grievance procedures. If the local grievance procedure finds in favour of the member of staff and that individual has had their pay withheld then their pay will be back-dated to the point at which their pay progression should have occurred.

    11 If an individual meets their full KSF post outline before the second pay gateway are they able to move up the pay spine?

    No, pay progression is by annual increments so the individual will progress on annual increments as normal through the pay points on their band.

    12 When an individual is seconded into a different post in their organisation, what will happen to their KSF pay gateway reviews?

    This needs to be decided in partnership and at local level as secondments vary in nature and length.

    Local organisations should follow the guiding principles set out in the Agenda for Change agreement and the KSF handbook, together with good HR practice they can agree in partnership the best approach for dealing with seconded staff.

    13 I am subject to a preceptorship year; does this mean that I will have two foundation gateways?

    No. There are only two gateway reviews in each payband. The preceptorship increment is awarded to staff six months into post 'provided their performance is satisfactory'.

    For further information and guidance, see

    • Section 1.8 of the Agenda for Change terms and conditions handbook
    • Paragraph 1.1 of the KSF handbook

    14 Is it possible to use the KSF development review process to defer pay progression at times outside of the gateways?

    No, however, provision is made for the deferral of pay in other exceptional circumstances as set out in the Agenda for Change terms and conditions handbook in the section on 'Exceptional grounds for deferral of pay progression' (paragraphs 6.26 and 6.27).

    15 How does the KSF link to the revalidation of health care professionals?

    The White Paper 'Trust, Assurance and Safety (Department of Health, February 2007) sets out the government's belief that all health care professional groups should be revalidated in a way that is proportionate to the risk that each profession might pose to patients. For those professionals who are employed within the NHS, the White Paper states the evidence to support revalidation will be provided as part of the normal staff management and clinical governance systems i.e. through the KSF, with employers providing recommendations to the professional regulators who will be the final decision makers. Discussions on how the White Paper will be taken forward are at a very early stage and decisions on implementation have not been made. Employers, trade unions and the KSF group (KSFG) of the NHS Staff Council are involved in discussions. We will keep you updated when further information becomes available.

    16 How does the KSF support clinical governance?

    The KSF links service delivery directly to the people responsible for different parts of that service (KSF post outlines). The development review process enables staff to develop to meet the full demands of their post and helps organisations address any gaps in staff skills and knowledge. All of this supports effective governance within organisations.

    17 How will the KSF help boards deal with the new Corporate Manslaughter legislation?

    The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, which will come into force on 6 April 2008, means that an organisation will be guilty of the offence of corporate manslaughter or homicide if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a death and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care. A substantial part of the breach must have been in the way its activities were managed by senior management and will have occurred 'where there were attitudes, policies, systems or accepted practices that were likely to have encouraged, or tolerated, such failings'. Clearly, an organisation that is properly applying the KSF will have a robust system in place to identify and address development needs which will mean that potential weaknesses and failings will be highlighted and dealt with.

    18 Do organisations need to develop their own local competences to implement the KSF?

    No. The KSF has been developed as a national framework for organisations and individuals to use and therefore removes the need for the development of local competences.

    19 How are other national competence frameworks linked to the KSF?

    The KSF group (KSFG) has a continuing programme of work to show the indicative links between the KSF and national/UK quality assured standards and competences. There are four broad groups of competences that are included in this work:

    national occupational standards and national workforce competences developed by Sector Skills Councils, such as, Skills for Health the competences and standards issued by the regulatory bodies, such as, the Health Professions Council competences developed or commissioned by one or more of the four government health departments, for example, national prescribing competences
    UK or national competence based frameworks. 

    The links are shown on the e-KSF.

    20 Does the KSF apply to Foundation Trusts?

    Yes, the KSF applies to all NHS organisations across the UK.

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