Understanding KSF Dimensions

The KSF is a very wide framework as it has to cover all of the roles and functions of the different staff groups in the NHS.

It is made up of 30 dimensions. Dimensions are broad competence statements which set out  the main areas of knowledge and skills and how these should be applied to meet the demands of your work in the NHS.

Six of the dimensions apply to all AfC posts in the NHS. These are the Core Dimensions.

In 2014 over 400 staff took part in group discussions to talk about their views on using the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) to support their personal development planning and review (PDPR) discussions.

What staff said

  • The KSF language is difficult to understand - it's full of jargon
  • The levels and indicators are all confusing
  • It doesn't describe what I need to do in my job
  • Can we make it simpler?

What we did

We spent time with staff from different job families across NHSScotland to look at how we could make the wording easier to understand. We also looked at a number of other frameworks and standards used in health and social care. Using all of the information we gathered, we re-wrote the six Core Dimensions from KSF and shared these widely across the job families for feedback.

The re-worded dimensions have the same titles and levels but are easier to understand. They replace the need for indicators and examples of application. The new wording is now available to support staff in their PDPR discussions.

The other 24 dimensions are called specific dimensions and these will apply to some but not all jobs in the NHS. These can be used to add more detail to KSF post outlines. Using these dimensions is optional.

It might be easier to focus only on the 6 Core Dimensions as most aspects of any job in the NHS can fit easily into these 6 areas. The Core Dimensions also fit with NHSScotland’s three Quality Strategy Ambitions – Person Centred, Safe and Effective Care. The ambitions are explained in the NHS Scotland Quality Strategy.

The table below shows these links more clearly.

Quality Strategy Ambition

KSF Core Dimension

  • Person Centred
    • Core 1 - Communication
    • Core 2 - Personal and People Development
    • Core 4 - Service Improvement
    • Core 5 - Quality
    • Core 6 - Equality and Diversity
  • Safe
    • Core 3 - Health, Safety and Security
  • Effective
    • Core 4 - Service Improvement
    • Core 5 - Quality

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If you are responsible for managing or supervising staff then you will need to include the specific dimension G6 – People Management.

You can find more detailed help on how to use and understand the KSF dimensions for creating a post outline in the Creating a KSF Post Outline and Adding Examples of Application to your Post Outline sections.

You might also find it helpful to check out A Short Guide to KSF Dimensions.

KSF Post Outlines