NHS Knowledge & Skills Framework and Learning in the NHS

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2011 Health Care Service Group Conference
25 November 2010
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) is the tool that supports career and pay progression for all NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts. As an integral part of Agenda for Change, the KSF gives staff a contractual right to access learning and development opportunities at work. Conference recognises that, whilst the NHS has a well established learning culture within its clinical and allied disciplines, there are large sections of the NHS workforce, particularly those in pay bands 1-4, who are routinely excluded from learning opportunities.

Conference reaffirms its commitment to the KSF as a key driver to realising the benefits of Agenda for Change. Founded on partnership, staff engagement and equality of access, the KSF describes the required knowledge and skills for every job role, enabling staff and services to be developed in tandem. It supports the embedding of new roles, building skills to create a workforce that is equipped to provide quality services.

Conference is concerned that the KSF has still not been fully implemented across the service. The latest staff survey for England shows that around one-third of the NHS workforce receives no form of appraisal or KSF development review. UNISON’s 2011/12 Pay Review Body Evidence shows that 22% of Admin & Clerical Staff, and 25% of Ancillary and Maintenance Staff have received no training. Therefore, whilst there are varying levels of progress across the four UK countries, full implementation is yet to be achieved. This prompted the NHS Staff Council to commission an independent review by the Institute for Employment Studies during 2010, which recommended revised guidance be produced which would:

i. Establish a stronger link between KSF and appraisals;

ii.Simplify the KSF to allow greater flexibility and meet local needs;

iii.Increase support for NHS organisations to enable KSF to be embedded at local level.

Conference notes that a new KSF guidance document ‘Appraisals and KSF made simple – a practical guide’ was launched in November 2010 and published on the NHS Employers website. It will enable organisations to use the KSF much more flexibly and adapt it to local needs and objectives. The NHS Staff Council has made it clear that the simplified guidance does not seek to change or compromise existing good practice, but is designed to assist and support full implementation where needed.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

i.continue the work to support full implementation of the KSF for all staff across all occupational groups and to share good practice;

ii.promote and publicise the new simplified KSF guidance;

iii.campaign to embed the KSF to ensure that staff are developed and equipped to deliver quality services;

iv.use partnership machinery in each of the UK countries to support, promote and protect learning and career development opportunities for NHS staff, with particular emphasis on the KSF;

v.support branches in campaigning for funding and release time for training;

vi.use the learning agenda to build union organisation – working with UNISON’s Learning & Organising Services to promote the role of Union Learning Reps;

vii.continue to promote the sharing of good practice between the four UK countries.