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Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF)

The NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) is specific to NHS staff. It describes the knowledge and skills that NHS staff (except doctors and dentists) need to apply in their work in order to deliver quality services. It is not about the knowledge and skills that they might possess. It provides a detailed framework on which the review and development of all staff is based. KSF is essentially a tool concerned with personal development but it also contributes to decisions about pay progression.

All elements of the KSF review and development process are now supported by a web-based toolkit, the e-KSF, which is provided free of charge to all NHS organisations and is accessible from anywhere at all times. It is a secure and confidential database which all staff can update to maintain their development review records and retain them if they move between NHS organisations.

The e-KSF can be accessed here.

KSF Post Outlines

Using the KSF, a Full KSF Post Outline is developed for every post in the NHS by people who understand the requirements of the post concerned. These KSF Post Outlines set out the knowledge and skills that are needed to undertake the duties of the post effectively.

There is also a Foundation KSF Post Outline. This checks that individuals can apply the basic knowledge and skills required for the first 12 months in a post to enable them to build a sound foundation from which they can develop to meet the Full KSF Post Outline over a number of years.

The National Library of Post outlines is available on the e-KSF.


KSF and the Personal Development Review (PDR) Process

Closely associated with the KSF is the PDR process. This process of planning and review helps to ensure that staff are supported to be effective in their jobs and committed to developing and maintaining high quality service for the public. Your reviewer will usually be your line manager, although the role can also be delegated to someone else who is competent to act in the role.

The development review process is an ongoing cycle of learning. It consists of:

  • Reviewing how you are applying your knowledge and skills to meet the demands of your current post and identifying whether you have any development needs. The demands of the post are described in a KSF Outline for that post.
  • Putting together a Personal Development Plan (PDP) detailing what you would like to learn and how you need to develop in the coming months, and the date of your next review. Although you may share the same KSF Outline with others working in similar posts, you will have your own, individual Personal Development Plan. This is because each individual has different strengths and different learning and development needs.
  • Learning and developing in your post with the support of your reviewer.
  • Evaluating your learning and development and reflecting on how it has been applied to your work.

For more information about the PDR process, see Chapter 3 of The NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (NHS KSF) and the Development Review Process (October 2004).

For information and resources on personal development, see the Skills for Health site.  

This self-assessment tool provided by Skills for Health will help you to assess your skills and knowledge against the KSF. It allows you to create a profile of skills required for your role and to assess your competence against it.

Skills for Health have mapped the competences required for a range of public health activities against the Career Framework levels (and the National Occupational Standards).

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