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Understanding the NHS Key Skills Framework


The NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (NHS KSF) is an integral part of the recent key NHS initiative Agenda for Change. It promotes consistency in care and minimum standards, while standardising pay scales and progression. As part of this process, senior managers within the NHS are required to conduct regular appraisals and set clear objectives for every member of staff.

To help HR and training and development managers implement effective appraisals and staff development practices, NHSU has worked with the NHS to produce a PDR Toolkit. This flexible resource can enhance and complement existing appraisal procedures while helping managers provide staff with meaningful and measurable objectives to achieve the standards required by the NHS KSF. The Toolkit also enables managers to run workshops for performance reviewers and those being reviewed so that both parties can get the most out of their appraisals.

Bev Edgar, Head of Training and Development, Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust, Sutton Coldfield has been using the toolkit. She said: “The PDR Toolkit has helped me to link appraisals, Personal Development Review processes and the NHS KSF. It is really useful in identifying how managers can support individual development and how individuals can make the most of the review process. It’s also great because it has been designed to fit in with existing provision, so I can choose the parts I need to fit in with local delivery.”

NHSU also runs an advice line to give practical advice to human resource and training and development managers, as well as other NHS staff, on how to implement the NHS KSF.

The NHS KSF Advisory Service is available through the existing u-i telephone advice line (08000 150 850), established by NHSU to provide free, impartial and confidential careers and learning advice to individuals within the NHS.

Expert advisors with qualifications in information and advice and trained in health and social care can provide support to HR and training and development managers on how to work with individuals within the NHS to achieve the skills outlined in the NHS KSF. They can also help individuals identify next steps by talking through learning and development opportunities.

* More information about these programmes and services is available at


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