Increasing appraisal compliance at WMAS


20 / 12 / 2011

The organisation

SHA region

What we did and why

How we did it

Results and next steps

Tips for others trusts

Contact details

The organisation

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (WMAS)
employs over 4,000 staff and operates from 59 ambulance stations covering an area of 5,000 square miles and serves a population of 5.3 million.

Our main role is to respond to emergency 999 calls, getting medical help to patients who have serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses. In addition, we run a patient transport service that provides pre-arranged transportation for patients and also single point of access to support the provision of unscheduled care and coordinate safeguarding referrals.

SHA region

West Midlands.

What we did and why

During 2009/10, around 35 per cent of staff had a personal development review (PDR) recorded on their electronic staff record (ESR), up from 10 per cent the previous year.

In common with other ambulance services, WMAS had logistical problems in conducting appraisals with operational staff who may have to leave their station at the beginning of a 12 hour shift and not return until finishing time. Emergency controls were reluctant to allow crews to have downtime for their PDRs in case a 999 call came in, or areas were left without cover.

In addition, one of the criticisms of the full KSF was that it concentrated on development and did not measure performance or achievement of objectives.

Having tried to follow the original KSF guidance to the letter, it was becoming evident that flexibility was required to meet the needs of WMAS.

Feedback from reviewers also indicated frustration that evidence checking for the KSF gave less time for ‘quality conversations’ with their staff, some of whom they may not see for weeks on end due to their shift patterns. The organisational development team set about re-designing the paperwork and building a framework for PDRs and appraisals.

How we did it

For 2010/11, the PDR paperwork was condensed to two sides of an A4 sheet of paper. This included information about the individual and a summary of the evidence produced or observed, especially for the six core dimensions. The paperwork also recorded the PDP, review, sign-off and a distribution list for copies.

Although, the specific dimensions were detailed on their post outlines, reviewers were asked not to try and cover them all every year to allow more time for discussion about PDPs.

The new paperwork was agreed by our Regional KSF Group, which included staff side representatives. It was trialled for a short period in development sessions for reviewers and then implemented across the trust.

This in itself was not enough, so the chief executive and board agreed that a 100 per cent completion rate for appraisals would become a trust objective. ESR was used to record and report completion rates for all areas in the trust. The reports were distributed weekly to the directors and senior managers.

Around the same time, the organisational development team had also designed the ‘Enabling Success Famework’ for PDRs and appraisals. The key aims of the framework were to develop ways of improving personal and team performance in the trust and achieve individual, team and trust goals and plans. It would also allow us to meet agreed standards and professional requirements and ensure our patients receive high quality services to the required standards. To do this the framework needed to highlight objectives and expectations, recognise success, and identify development needs.

Results and next steps

The two new sets of paperwork follow the Institute for Employment Studies Report recommendations, which allow for objective setting. The majority of staff (i.e. Bands 1-6) now have a performance appraisal and development review (PADR) supported by the simplified KSF and include objectives to be achieved. Supervisors and managers in Bands 7 and above have an objective-based review using non-KSF paperwork.

Appraisal compliance rates for performance development reviews have increased from 35 per cent in 2009/10, to 93 per cent in 2010/11.

Reviewers have also received further development to use a coaching approach in their reviews. There is now a five-year implementation plan in place for the framework.

Our focus for next year will be on quality assurance, 360 degree feedback and competency frameworks across the trust.

Tips for other trusts

• Shift the focus from KSF compliance to personal, team and organisational development.
• Branding and marketing of the new system/framework should focus on the positives.
• Get your chief executive to include PDRs and appraisals into directors’ objectives.

Contact details

Peter Purewal
Organisational development manager
West Midlands Ambulance Service




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