Category Archives: Defining Core Competencies TaF

Roll the drums and sound the trumpets the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health has arrived

Launched at the CILIP Conference on the 12th July 2016, the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) for Health (login required) is now available.

If only there was a way of encapsulating the broad range of skills and knowledge required to develop the health library and knowledge workforce to meet current and future needs?  Over the last year the Competencies Task and Finish Group have worked with CILIP to create an enriched version of the CILIP PKSB which has examples from a health setting throughout.

The Group have scrutinised every word in the CILIP PKSB and interpreted it for a health setting.  We have also had lengthy debates about what constitutes a competency and the differences between knowledge, skills, values and behaviours.  We have looked at numerous other examples of competency and value frameworks for different professions and have worked tirelessly to produce a tool that can be used by anyone working in the health library and knowledge sector, whatever their role.

The PKSB for Health will only be of use if it is embraced by the whole health library and knowledge workforce and as such we would like to encourage you to take a look and start using the self- assessment tool to plan your own personal development.   Don’t panic – there is no expectation that an individual will have the same level of skills and knowledge across the whole of the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health.  The level of knowledge and skills will vary depending upon your role.

How can it help you?

  • As a self-assessment tool it can help you to plan your personal development and be used as part of the process of gaining professional registration and revalidation by CILIP
  • It can be used to demonstrate your unique skill set to employers and enhance their understanding of the competencies required by library and knowledge staff
  • It can be used to inform role and service redesign, staff training and be used to support staff recruitment and retention
  • It can be used by managers as part of the appraisal and talent management process
  • It will be used to support workforce planning and development at local, regional and national level.

Download the full PKSB for Health (login required)

CILIP members may also access via the CILIP website

Practical suggestions to get you started:

  • Read and share with colleagues the brochure –  The Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health
  • Read the full Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health
  • Use the self-assessment ratings to score your level of knowledge and skills
  • Identify any areas that you want to develop and think about how you might do that – the Learning Zone may help here
  • Share the PKSB for Health with your employer or line manager and colleagues.
  • Consider using it with your line manager as a way of jointly identifying areas which you want to develop

The second Competencies Task and Finish Group have met to discuss the second phase of their work which will consider additional tools to supplement the PKSB for Health and create resources for role reconfiguration– more of this in a future post.

Please let us know how you get on using the PKSB for Health or get in touch with your LKLS Lead if you would like further information.

Alison Day on behalf of the Competencies TAF

What should our behaviours be?

Our ‘Competencies’ Task and Finish Group, part of the Knowledge for Healthcare workforce planning and development work-stream, has been looking at what kind of behaviours we should exhibit as health librarians and knowledge specialists.

The group has looked at the CILIP Code of Conduct, the NHS constitution, stated NHS values and a number of articles and some publications from the US Medical Library Association (MLA):

  • Developing Core Leadership Competencies for the Library Profession 2009 Library Leadership and Management 23(2) pp63-74
  • A review of competencies needed for health librarians – a comparison of Irish and international practice 2014 HILJ 32, pp89-94
  • Managerial competencies for information professionals: an international perspective.2013 Library Review 62 (4/5) 335-343
  • MLA Personal Attributes to Contribute to Success: Practice related competencies
  • MLA Personal Attributes to Contribute to Success: personal characteristics


We have enjoyed extended detailed discussions on this and feel it worthwhile to generate wider discussion about our professional values, attitudes and behaviours. As a result of our deliberations we drew up the following as a guide to the behaviours to which library and knowledge services staff should commit.

What do you think? Let us know.


Healthcare values, attitudes and behaviours

  1. Improvement to healthcare and health for all is fundamental to all we do. We prioritise patients in every decision we take.

The ethos of all NHS bodies, private and voluntary sector providers supplying NHS services, local authorities in the exercise of their public health functions and Public Health England, is driven by the values enshrined in the NHS Constitution:

  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to the quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Working together for patients
  • Everyone counts



  1. The qualities identified below indicate specific values, attitudes and behaviours required to underpin the work of information and knowledge practitioners within the healthcare sector.

Our thinking is based on a statement of NHS behaviours (as at April 2016).


  • We recognise self, service and organisation as part of a wider health care system.
  • We contribute and share ideas, knowledge and a common purpose by being team players, supporting others, and working in collaboration. Listening and learning are key behaviours for this to happen,
  • We are motivated to work independently and willing to use our own initiative.
  • We strive for improvements to our service, for our customers and ultimately for patients by being motivational and engaging leaders, having drive, ambition and commitment to transformational change.
  • We take risks, are innovative and learn from our mistakes
  • We communicate in a proactive and approachable manner, being mindful of the needs of the customer and the patient and always acting in an inclusive manner.
  • We are willing to embrace technological solutions and new ways of doing things.
  • We work in a manner that is evidence-based and takes into account the outcome and impact of our service and actions
  • We think analytically and methodically with an eye for detail and work systematically.
  • We work in a safe manner with respect for legal and organisational boundaries.
  • We are self-aware and willing to think reflectively, work in an open and transparent way, act with integrity and are accountable for our own actions
  • We are committed to the library and information profession whilst balancing personal and professional life


As a reminder:

CILIP members are bound by a code of conduct which was published in 2012.

The NHS Constitution defines a set of behaviours that we should follow. This is what it says:

We prioritise patients in every decision we take: everything we do is directly connected to our purpose of improving outcomes – not a process, not an organisation, not a profession – but the people who are at the heart of all that we do.

We listen and learn: we believe everybody has good ideas and has the right to be listened to carefully and thoughtfully. We respect and support each other, building trust and empowering one another and staff across the NHS, to achieve the highest standards.

We are evidence-based: we listen to the people and communities we serve, we look at insight and evidence and we measure our outcomes, so that our decisions are objective and we understand their impact.

We are open and transparent: we are accountable and we take individual and collective responsibility for our actions. We act with integrity and we are transparent about the decisions we make, the way we operate and the impact we have.

We are inclusive: we work in partnership with patients, clinicians in the NHS, the public and our partners because we get the very best outcomes when we work together with common purpose.

We strive for improvement: we believe we can always do better for patients and will challenge and seek challenge. We share ideas and knowledge and take risks because we believe in innovation and learn from our mistakes

The competent set ……

To be able to deliver the Knowledge for Healthcare Framework, we need an effective knowledge service workforce. As part of the framework document, the following promise was made “we will establish … a competency framework that defines core and specialist competencies …” Cue a Competencies TAF

We first met at CILIP HQ at the end of August to look at CILIP’s existing document called the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB); a familiar document to anyone following Chartership. As CILIP had already put a great deal of thought and effort into producing the PKSB, we were delighted to be able to use this as our starting point.  The original, CILIP version is applicable to professionals working in any sector, so we concentrated our efforts in customising it to specifically reflect the work of healthcare information professionals. We have since spent 15 hours of teleconferencing working out way through the document line by line and adapting it to suit the Knowledge for Healthcare Framework. I won’t mention the hours of preparation we undertook before each meeting.

So how are we defining competencies? There are many definitions out there. This link will give you a good overview of the topic.  At the moment we are working on the following definition but it is still being hotly debated as we learn more about this area.

Competency is defined as the expected level of performance that integrates knowledge (cognitive), skills (functional) and attitudes (behavioural)

From this definition we have the knowledge and skills already aligned to healthcare and are now beginning to think about the attitudes that will need to be assimilated into the this framework. Our next set of teleconferences are booked and our Healthcare PKSB is out for consultation with the reference group and you, dear reader, if you would like to help us. We are looking forward to delivering the competency framework in the Spring of 2016.

This stage has been about professional staff, so the next TAF will be looking at an equivalent for paraprofessionals. There will be a call for new members in the Spring so do think about it.

If you have any questions or good ideas, please do email me at

Members of the Group

  • Lesley Allen – Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Lorna Burns – Public Health England
  • Alison Day – Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Valerie Haigh – Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mary Hill (Chair) – The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
  • Madeleine Still – North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust