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Knowledge for Healthcare

In January 2021 Health Education England’s national Knowledge and Library Services team published Knowledge for Healthcare: Mobilising evidence; sharing knowledge; improving outcomes.

The strategy sets the direction for the development of NHS knowledge and library services in England. The priorities are to enable all NHS staff and learners to benefit equally from high-quality knowledge services, and optimise the expertise of knowledge and library teams to inform decision making from board to ward, at the bedside and in community and primary care.

Health Education England aspires to lead the development of world-class knowledge services, optimising the use of evidence from research and knowledge for policy and practice, enabling excellent healthcare and health improvement. Demand for knowledge services has grown over the last five years, with a 30% increase in service users.


Health Education England will work with partners to ensure equity of access and opportunity delivered by:

  • The right resources: Commitment to achieving equitable and sustainable funding for NHS knowledge and library services while giving systems value for money.

  • The right team with the right roles: Services with more knowledge specialists work with more teams, releasing more time for care, having a greater impact on patient care.

  • The right services: Knowledge services for all, built on the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion.    

To do this, Health Education England will continue to:

  • invest in a high quality digital knowledge infrastructure to meet the requirements of staff and learners

  • empower the NHS knowledge and library services workforce with the skills and confidence to deliver the ambition

  • shape forward-looking and innovative health knowledge and information services

There is also renewed focus on mobilising evidence and knowledge, assuring the quality of knowledge services and improving health literacy.

Excellent knowledge services require strategic buy-in, collaboration and commitment to maximise investment, nationally, locally and across health systems.  Health Education England is committed to working with stakeholders and partner organisations.

Health Education England will continue to advocate that boards strengthen their capability to manage knowledge and mobilise evidence, getting the right expertise, roles and resources in place to realise the business benefits of NHS knowledge services.

Below you can download accessible PDFs of the full Knowledge for Healthcare Strategy, an executive summary or an Easy Read version.  Please see 'related documents'


What people say about this comprehensive publication:




Click the image to the left to watch Gill Furniss MP offer her endorsement of this publication and the work it  promises to deliver.

Dr Navina Evans, Chief Executive, Health Education England:

“Applying knowledge into action is the currency of a successful healthcare organisation. Taking the ‘heavy lifting’ out of getting evidence into practice to improve the quality of care, NHS Knowledge and Library Service teams offer the ‘gift of time’ to healthcare professionals.”


Rob Webster CBE, Chief Executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lead Chief Executive West Yorkshire and Harrogate ICS:

"Coronavirus has had an impact upon all of our lives. It has accelerated innovation in some places, and increased demand for care in others. ICS’ will need to respond by driving the adoption of new models of care and creating cultures of innovation. Knowledge for health care 2021-26 provides a welcome set of resources that describe how NHS Knowledge and library services will help. Only through strengthening our local capability will we have the evidence to underpin place-based planning."


Patrick Mitchell, Director of Innovation, Transformation and Digital, Health Education England:

“As the strategic lead for NHS knowledge and library services, Health Education England has an ambition to optimise the use of evidence and knowledge for policy and practice and maximise value for money. By offering an ‘open door’ for anyone looking for answers, being non-judgmental, providing clinical decision support and digital resources 24 hours a day, NHS knowledge specialists put the evidence into evidence-based practice.”


Sue Lacey Bryant, National Lead for NHS Knowledge and Library  Services in England:

“Our ambition is to enable the NHS to use the right knowledge, at the right time, in the right place. The evidence shows that embedding knowledge specialists as part of healthcare teams enables NHS staff and organisations to benefit from the gift of time and achieve better healthcare outcomes for patients.” 

A librarian talking to a clinician

NHS Knowledge and Library Services

Healthcare is a knowledge industry. “It is not enough to have the right teams in the right place, collaborating to deliver high quality, efficient patient care. It is essential that they use the right knowledge and evidence at the right time.”

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