NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework

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2009 Health Care Service Group Conference
17 April 2009

Conference notes that as an integral part of Agenda for Change, the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) is a crucial tool for supporting the effective delivery of health care services. It is designed to enable staff to develop the necessary skills to carry out their roles with efficiency and flexibility, creating a workforce that is able to adapt to the changing context of healthcare.

Conference welcomes the Social Partnership Forum funded project in 2007 to reinvigorate the KSF in every trust board in England and to re-energise KSF partnership networks at all levels. It also welcomes on-going initiatives to embed the KSF in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A “re Launch event for KSF” was held in 2008. This event was targeted at Chief Executives and Trust Board Members; however, it was very poorly supported by the target groups and was primarily populated by lower level Managers and Human Resource staff, with a few TU reps.

Conference notes that in 2008 Health Minister Ann Keen required all Chief Executives in England to:

·appoint a named board member to lead on KSF implementation;

·ensure the board receives regular reports on the use of KSF and its effectiveness;

·show a clear link between using the KSF and improving the number and quality of staff appraisals;

·give an on-going commitment to support Union Learning Representatives with sufficient facility time to assist with the delivery of KSF through partnership working.

Subsequent monitoring has shown significant progress toward implementing these actions. However Conference is concerned that the benefits of the Knowledge and Skills Framework have for the vast majority of NHS staff, in particular UNISON members, yet to be realised.

Despite the requirement to integrate KSF fully into all jobs we believe the barest minimum is being done within Trusts. Staff roles may have a KSF outline and staff may have a cursory “appraisal / development review,” but in practice this is often going through the motions.

Many new roles are being developed but there is no genuine forward planning in terms of staff development. In fact most Managers appear to be unaware of the requirement/need /opportunity to use the KSF for this purpose; non-clinical staff in particular face continued difficulties in accessing training and development.

We need to continually raise this matter at national level and that the same priority should be given to this issue as was given to the implementation of AFC pay scales and assimilation of staff onto the common pay bands.

Conference notes the Government’s endorsement of the Leitch Review of Long Term Skills Needs and its aim to increase employer engagement and investment via a ‘skills pledge’ to commit employers to increase training in the workplace, to invest in vocational and higher level qualifications, and to expand the use of apprenticeships. It further notes that targeted funding to help address skills needs for NHS staff in bands 1-4 is currently available through the Joint Investment Framework. A commitment to developing healthcare support staff is also outlined in Lord Darzi’s NHS Next Stage Review which pledges to double investment in apprenticeships.

Conference therefore request that the necessary steps be taken to ensure a National Campaign is launched (supported by nationally produced materials) to ensure that not only is awareness raised about the benefits that KSF can bring for organisations and opportunities for individual members of staff, but also that Trusts are required to demonstrate genuine application of KSF by the development of a mechanism for monitoring progress – requiring joint sign off by Chief Executive Officer and Staff Side representatives. We believe that nothing less will achieve the full benefits of the AFC Agreement which was sold to our members in October 2004.

Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to highlight the link between the KSF and the wider learning agenda and to maximise skills development opportunities for all NHS staff by:

i launch a national campaign for KSF for all – and in particular non-clinical staff and continuing to campaign for adequate resources to ensure full implementation and maintenance of the KSF;

ii.working closely with the National KSF Group to support implementation, share good practice to maintain the KSF and ensure that a mechanism for monitoring is developed requiring joint sign off;

iii.campaigning to ensure greater development opportunities for staff in the lower pay bands, ensuring that employers take advantage of targeted funding like the Joint Investment Framework;

iv.influencing the apprenticeships agenda to maximise the benefits for staff in the lower pay bands across all occupations;

v.promoting a culture of lifelong learning through joint work with UNISON’s Learning & Organising Services and highlighting the crucial role of union learning reps in the workplace;

vi. encouraging branches to use KSF and the learning agenda to build union

organisation; vii. use this campaign to recruit members as well as recruiting Union Learning

Representatives to promote learning for all.

viii.ensuring that close working, and the sharing of resources and

information continues to be a key activity between the four countries.