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Knowledge for Healthcare

Mobilising evidence; sharing knowledge; improving outcomes.  A strategic framework for NHS Knowledge and Library Services in England 2021-2026

In January 2021 Health Education England’s national Knowledge and Library Services team publish the Knowledge for Healthcare strategy 2021 – 26.  The strategy sets the direction and priorities for the development of NHS knowledge and library services in England, which deliver proactive services enabling NHS organisations to use the evidence-base and the knowledge of staff to inform decision-making from board to bedside, in hospitals and in the community.

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NHS knowledge specialists and library staff work with NHS teams to inform effective decision-making, driving innovation, excellent healthcare and health improvement.  They bring highly specialised skills to find, summarise and manage evidence from a broad range of sources and facilitate healthcare teams to share lessons learned and ‘know how’.

Health Education England operates as part of a broad ecosystem bringing knowledge and evidence from research, experience and data to the workforce. Partnership working is central to sharing best practice, optimising limited resources and reducing duplication.

Demand for knowledge services has grown over the last five years, with a 30% increase in service users. Going forward there is renewed focus on getting the right resources, team and services in place:

  • 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.

And to do this, HEE 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 vision

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

Excellent knowledge services require strategic buy-in, collaboration and commitment to maximise investment, nationally, locally and across health systems.  Therefore, HEE will continue to encourage boards to 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 in the digital age.

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

“As the strategic lead for NHS knowledge and library services Health Education England (HEE), 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 Library and Knowledge Services in England, said:

“We are committed to a compelling ambition to drive transformation and success across the healthcare system.  Partnership working is key. We are upskilling the workforce to mobilise evidence and knowledge. We are championing improved health literacy. We are transforming our digital infrastructure.

“The evidence shows that aligning skilled and confident knowledge specialists with healthcare teams across the system, NHS organisations enable their workforce to benefit from the gift of time and achieve better healthcare outcomes for patients.”