Section 6: Career progression (England and Wales*1)

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Section 6 (England and Wales*1): Career progression

6.1 The NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF)2, and other relevant competency frameworks, are tools for describing the knowledge and skills staff need to apply at work in order to deliver high quality services. The KSF can be used to support the annual system of review and development for staff and it has been designed to apply to all staff covered by Agenda for Change contracts. Employers may use the NHS KSF or other skills/competency frameworks, which are in line with the KSF principles. 

Simplified process

6.2 The NHS Staff Council guidance Appraisals and KSF made simple-a practical guide enables NHS organisations to develop and implement local arrangements that are consistent with the principles underlying the national KSF Framework.

6.3 The guidance detailed in paragraph 6.2 in this section, supplements rather than replaces the full Knowledge and Skills Framework. Paragraphs 6.4 to 6.14 in this Section outline the processes for development reviews which were agreed as part of the original KSF documentation. Organisations may wish to continue to refer to the original provisions if the local partners wish to do so or to pursue the new guidance. The guidance could also be used to complement existing good local practice where the full KSF has not been implemented.

Development review process

6.4 The output from the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework for an individual job will be a list of descriptions and/or standards (KSF post outline) specifying the minimum applied knowledge and skills required for a job and how this should develop during a person’s time in post. It will provide prompts for action by individuals and their managers to update or develop their knowledge and skills, or address areas for development in the application of knowledge and skills. Development review procedures should be jointly agreed by management and staff representatives locally.

6.5 The KSF post outlines within an organisation will be available to all staff members to help them identify the knowledge and skills requirements likely to be needed for future career steps and identify the development needed to support them. These requirements are not, however, fixed and will be reviewed in partnership when posts become vacant or changes need to take place for service development and other reasons.

6.6 All staff will have annual development reviews which will result in the production of a personal development plan. Similar to current practice, development reviews will take place between staff and their manager or, where appropriate, their supervisor, a professional adviser or another appropriately trained senior team member. Development review procedures should be jointly agreed by management and staff representatives locally.

6.7 The main purpose of the development review will be to look at the way a member of staff is developing with reference to:

  • how the duties and responsibilities of the job are being undertaken, based on current agreed objectives consistent with the criteria and principles in Annex 23 (England and Wales);
  • the application of knowledge and skills in the workplace;
  • the consequent development needs of the individual member of staff.

6.8 The primary outputs of a development review for an employee will be a record of the above against the relevant KSF post outline (or other relevant framework outline) and an individual personal development plan, which links to the needs of the employee in the post. During the development review process, discussion should cover the duties and responsibilities of the job that is being undertaken, as outlined in paragraph 6.7 in this section. This will help to define future objectives and learning needs.

6.9 The review of learning achievements demonstrated in the workplace will be demonstrated by reference to the current personal development plan.

6.10 Development will primarily focus on helping members of staff to carry out their current job to the standard specified in the KSF outline for the post, although personal interests and opportunities for career progression will also be taken into account. Approaches to development will not just consist of courses but will also involve distance learning, private study, opportunities to participate in particular projects or work areas, short secondments, work shadowing, peer review and other continuing professional development activities.

6.11 Development plans will distinguish between goals for the year ahead and those applying to the longer term. There will be a commitment from both parties to make all reasonable efforts to meet the developmental goals for the year ahead in that year and elements not completed through force of circumstance will be carried over to the following year, unless agreed otherwise.

6.12 Managers and staff will work together to fulfil agreed development plans. Employers will encourage staff members to progress and develop and, where training and/or development needs have been identified and agreed, employers will ensure sufficient financial support is provided. Where appropriate, employers should ensure that staff have appropriate time to fulfil training and/or development needs related to their current job and appropriate financial and other support. If an employer fails to do this, they cannot defer pay progression. Wherever possible, employers will also provide similar encouragement and support for elements of the personal development plan which reflect personal interests or help staff prepare for a more senior role or transfer to a different area of work within the NHS.

6.13 Staff members will contribute to undertaking the agreed personal development plan through their personal effort. They may individually choose, where appropriate, to commit personal time and resources, especially in those areas relating to longer-term career development. It is the employer’s responsibility to support individuals and their personal efforts appropriately. Where development needs essential to the post are agreed with the employer, there will not normally be any requirement for the employee to use his or her unpaid personal time.

6.14 Local development and review processes must be designed to ensure that part-time staff and those working outside normal hours, have equal access to them.

Development of professional roles

6.15 Guidance on the development of roles for healthcare professionals on pay band 5 is in Annex 20.

Career development moves

6.16 Where a member of staff moves to another job in the NHS they will require a new set of objectives in line with the relevant employer’s local appraisal framework. These will need to be consistent with the principles set out in Annex 23 (England and Wales) and applied so as not to disadvantage a member of staff joining part way through the performance review cycle.

6.17 Where an individual re-trains in a different area of work, for wider service or operational reasons, with the explicit agreement of the employer concerned, their existing level of pay should be subject to locally agreed pay protection arrangements (see Section 19 and Annex 15). Once protection is agreed, it may not be withdrawn until the person concerned has had a reasonable opportunity to complete their re-training and progress to a point where pay protection is no longer required. Explicit employer agreement in this context cannot, however, be deemed to have been given solely because the employer has agreed to re-employ someone following redundancy.

Temporary movement into a higher pay band

6.18 Individuals may be moved into a higher pay band where it is necessary to fill a post on a temporary basis when a vacancy is unfilled, but being advertised, or the post is being held open for someone who is due to return, e.g. from long-term sickness absence, maternity leave, or from extended training.

6.19 Pay should be set either at the minimum of the new pay band or, if this would result in no pay increase (by reference to basic pay plus any recruitment and retention premium, if applicable) the first pay point in the band which would deliver an increase in pay. Temporary movement into a new pay band should not normally last more than six months or less than one month, except in instances of maternity leave or long-term sickness absence, where a longer period may be known at the outset. In circumstances where the individual is not required to carry out the full responsibilities of the post, pay will be determined by job evaluation.

6.20 Where temporary movement into a higher pay band results in only one extra pay point the incremental date remains the same. Where temporary movement results in more than one extra pay point the incremental date for the period of the temporary movement becomes the date the movement began.

Pay on promotion

6.21 Pay on promotion should be set either at the minimum of the new pay band or, if this would result in no pay increase, the first pay point in the band which would deliver an increase in pay (by reference to basic pay plus any recruitment and retention premium, if applicable).





1 In Wales this Section is part of a three year agreement. It applies there until 31 December 2017.

2 Available at:
http://www.nhsemployers.org/your-workforce/retain-and-improve/managing-your-workforce/appraisals/simplified-ksf 

Pay circular (AforC) 1/2016: amendment number 36


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