Published: 08/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5985 Page 39

The knowledge and skills framework of Agenda for Change is a great opportunity for employees and staff, argues Gill Rose With the most recent reports from the Department of Health indicating that 88 per cent of staff in England have now been moved to Agenda for Change terms and conditions, trusts are now turning their attention to the third component of that agreement - the knowledge and skills framework (KSF).

Trusts have until the end of this year to ensure that all staff receive a KSF outline for their post, but this is only the start of the process. The KSF defines the knowledge and skills that NHS staff need to apply in their work. It provides a single, consistent, comprehensive and explicit framework on which to base review and development for all staff.

The KSF and annual development review process lie at the heart of the career and pay progression strand of Agenda for Change . It is about the NHS investing in staff development and will help ensure they are supported in their jobs.

The review can bring benefits to organisations, too. Areas which stand to gain include workforce planning, recruitment processes and the equality and diversity agenda.

At the heart of the KSF is the generation of post outlines.

A KSF post outline needs to be developed in partnership with trade unions for every post covered by Agenda for Change by the end of December 2005.

Figures at the end of September indicated that 51 per cent of staff had received their outlines.

The e-KSF, a free online tool for developing and storing KSF post outlines, has been helping employers with this process. It also houses the national reference library of post outlines that trusts can use. There are now more than 110 outlines in the library.

The KSF is designed to form the basis of an annual development review. While the KSF does not play a role in determining the pay band of a post, it is designed to help staff develop within the pay bands. Generally, pay progression will take the form of an annual increase from one point within a pay band to the next. At defined points in a pay band - known as 'gateways' - decisions are made about pay progression.

These gateways will become fully operational in October 2006. All staff should have received their first personal development review against their KSF outline and be working to their personal development plan by then.

For staff facing gateways in 2006, the timetable is tight. They should ideally be working to their personal development plans now.

Gill Rose is the KSF project manager at NHS Employers.

www. nhsemployers. org/ agendaforchange

www. wise. nhs. uk/agendaforchange

www. e-ksf. org