Raising standards of performance and evidencing using the KSF


11 / 03 / 2010



The organisation

South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is situated in the West Midlands and provides mental health services across a large geographically spread area, including prison services. The organisation employs over 3,600 staff, of which approximately 3,200 are subject to Agenda for Change terms and conditions. The trust has six clinical directorates and a corporate directorate.

SHA region

West Midlands

What we did and why

The aim of this project was to develop trust-wide standards and consistency in the application of the KSF across professional and staff groups. To achieve this we reduced significantly the number of KSF outlines in use and developed trust-wide benchmarks for dimensions and levels to be included in outlines.

The inconsistent and large number of outlines was due to the trust merging with another organisation in 2007. This resulted in multiple outlines, with many duplicated for the same posts. Overall there were huge inconsistencies in the application of the KSF across staff and professional groups.

In September 2008, the trust secured funding from NHS West Midlands and a KSF project facilitator was employed for a period of 14 months in order to:

i) Review of all existing KSF outlines.
ii) Develop trust and professional standards of competency.


How we did it

 •  A project plan was developed and regular progress updates were reported to   the human resources and organisational development (HR&OD) sub-committee.
 •  KSF directorate leads were identified to coordinate new KSF processes and  cascade information within the directorates
 •  A staff side lead was identified.

Stage 1: Review all existing KSF outlines

• There were 906 outlines stored in the local library of e-KSF with many more paper outlines.

• The outlines on the e-KSF were often vague and had no specific naming convention.

1. Cleansing

  • KSF directorate leads used e-KSF reports to identify which outlines belonged to their directorate and the band of the post. This also helped to indicate duplicates in the system. 
  • A naming convention was developed to identify the directorate that the outline belonged to.

2. Changing HR processes

  • The vacancy control process was changed to ensure that KSF outlines were included with all vacancy submissions.
  • Links were created with the Agenda for Change (AfC) process to capture outlines at this stage.

3. Changing the format of outlines to support ‘indicator’ achievement

  • Specific areas of application relevant to a range of posts were developed to replace generic ‘areas of application’, making the outline more meaningful.

To facilitate these stages the project lead worked with the nursing groups, who had already agreed a consistent approach to developing generic dimensions for same level posts.  Working with the HR & OD sub-committee, approval was given to use the core dimension benchmarks across the trust, allowing some deviation from the benchmark if reasonable explanation was provided.

Stage 2: Develop trust and professional standards of competency
Areas of application have now been developed for all six core dimensions and one specific dimension (G1 Learning and Development and G6 People Management).  The areas of application have been used to develop trust standards of behaviour, such as ensuring that all new staff attend trust induction within three months of their start date.

The results and next steps

The trust-wide benchmarks of ‘areas of application’ have been applied to all the outlines on e-KSF and this has led to a greater consistency of application across the trust.  Managers and staff now have a better understanding of the standards expected of them and the relevance of the outline to their own posts.

This has contributed to increased number of personal development reviews taking place, with more than 80% of eligible staff now having a KSF-based development review meeting every 12 months.

Centralised processes have been implemented to control the development of new outlines and amend existing ones. All newly approved outlines are being placed in a repository on the trust website, to make them easily accessible by all staff without the need to maintain separate login and password accounts.

The outlines are also being used to assist the trust in formulating competency-based job descriptions that will support the development of new roles and new ways of working.

Achieving greater consistency is also helping with the development and implementation of preceptorship processes with these being aligned to KSF foundation outlines.

Now that the trust has a consistent approach to developing outlines, it will be making a decision as to the best way to ensure an equally consistent approach to recording the KSF review.

Contact details

Theresa Shaw, head of learning and development Theresa.shaw@sssft.nhs.uk


Latest Tweets

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Sounds great, what next?

Register Now

Not now, I will register later

Log In