100 per cent appraisal at London Pharmacy Education and Training but still room for improvement


20 / 07 / 2012

London Pharmacy Education and Training (LPE&T) simplified the knowledge skills framework (KSF) outlines for all staff, reduced the evidence burden and made explicit links between the KSF and appraisals. They achieved 100 percent appraisal / KSF review rates in the 2010 NHS Staff Survey. 


The organisation

LPE&T employs a team of pharmacy specialists to support NHS pharmacy workforce development as well as education and training across London and the East of England (Beds, Essex & Herts).  This includes: pre-registration training; a centre for pharmacy vocational qualifications, accredited courses for qualified pharmacy technicians and Continuing Professional Development.  The LPE&T service is hosted by Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust (C&W NHS FT).

What we did and why

Until fairly recently, KSF review and appraisal had been perceived as separate processes despite the fact that the original KSF was embedded into LPE&T appraisals.  In May 2011 our host organisation, Chelsea and Westminster NHS FT, updated its appraisal policy to make appraisals more structured and simple to complete. Their approach prompted us to undertake a review of our KSF outlines, staff development policy and appraisal documentation. Our review focussed on making an appraisal easier to undertake with greater flexibility built into the process,  in line with the principles set out in the simplified KSF. 

How we did it

We started by setting up a task and finish group comprised of managers and other staff in the team to gather feedback on the value of the KSF and appraisal process. Staff valued specific KSF dimensions because they were core to our specialist education and training role but some outlines included 7 specific dimensions! Our review of all the KSF outlines highlighted the fact that there was significant overlap between some core and specific dimensions resulting in duplication of evidence.   The task and finish group analysed the feedback in the context of the principles of the simplified KSF “Appraisals and KSF made Simple – a practical guide” by:

  • focussing on the six core dimensions
  • using specific dimensions for development
  • reducing the evidence burden
  • making better links between the KSF and appraisals.

Results and next steps

We wanted to use the KSF flexibly in the context that worked best for our team. The next steps were:

  • a team consultation on KSF outlines with the objective of reducing the number of specific dimensions for all staff
  • a review of the appraisal process and associated paperwork, policies and guidance

In September 2011, the task and finish group completed their work. Outputs from the group were as follows:

  • staff valued specific KSF dimensions that were core to their specialist education and  training role.
  • a review of all KSF outlines highlighted significant overlap between some core and specific dimensions and staff commented that this resulted in duplication of evidence.Therefore the number of specific dimensions in KSF outlines were  reduced for all staff which prevented duplication
  • to further reduce the evidence burden it was agreed that for the first year in post and the second gateway, staff would provide evidence for all indicators in their KSF outline. For subsequent years staff would only need to produce one or two pieces of evidence for each  dimension for their appraisal
  • the trust appraisal form was adapted to make explicit the link between the KSF and appraisal. Staff objectives, KSF evidence and the personal development plans were all recorded on one form
  • guidance on collection of evidence and preparing for appraisal was written for staff
  • guidance on conducting the appraisal / review was written for managers 
  • the LPE&T staff development policy was updated to reflect these changes.

Our next Investors in People (IiP) review is in 2013 which provides the ideal opportunity for an external assessor to gather staff views on our new appraisal process and KSF outlines.


Feedback from the team so far is as follows:

The new appraisal form was well structured which made the appraisal process quicker. Staff commented on the explicit links between the new appraisal form and the KSF and the reduced evidence burden:
“It gives an opportunity for the appraisee to evaluate themselves against the KSF outline and progress with objectives”.
 “…in the past, I had to provide a long list of activities that demonstrated my competence against the KSF dimensions. Now what is required is a key piece of evidence for each one”.


Five tips for other trusts

1. Do review paperwork and processes even if your appraisal rates are high as there may still be room for improvement.
2. Involve managers and non-managers in the review to capture broad viewpoints and to assist  employee engagement
3. Allow staff who have already demonstrated competence at foundation and second gateways to collect only 1 or 2 pieces of evidence per KSF dimension for subsequent years
4. The KSF is a useful tool so adapt it and use it flexibly in the context that works best for your staff and organisation
5. Refer to the key principles of the simplified KSF to check that you are using the KSF in the most effective way for your staff and organisation.

Contact details:

Please email Helen.middleton@chelwest.nhs.uk the Pharmacy Professional Development Manager.


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