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ICLC Report – Lorna Dawson – Knowledge Service Assistant – Greater Manchester Mental Health

On Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd September 2017, I attended the International Clinical Librarian Conference, thanks to funding awarded by NHS Health Education England. Healthcare library professionals from as far as America, Iran and Denmark converged on Leicester Racecourse and presented on multiple aspects on the clinical librarian role. I attended with a view to discovering more about the role to assess my suitability for it, and if so, what skills I would need to secure a CL post. Here I give you a taste of a few of the talks I saw and what I learnt from the conference as a whole.

Steve Glover and Olivia Schaff’s presentation showed me how important librarians can be in directing the future of research. Olivia worked with a group of librarians to conduct a systematic review of endometriosis research. Through identifying all the research available, areas where research was currently lacking could be identified and then ranked in terms of priority for further research. It was the first time I’d heard of librarians working in this way and I thought it was a really great use of our skills to influence the future of research.

One of my favourite talks was Bennet Jones and Katie Barnard on setting up a CL service at North Bristol NHS Trust. The creativity with which they developed the service was inspiring: from Bennett’s posters of Nurse Norman who was sad until he found the library, to their willingness to shadow surgeons in order to get a better understanding of their needs, to Katie’s abuse of the AOB section in staff meetings.

Farhad Shokraneh had everyone in a state of disbelief as he reported on clinical librarianship in Iran. Clinical librarianship is almost unheard of there and Farhad is possibly the only one of his kind in the country. He sits with a laptop in the emergency services department finding answers for enquiries there and then as staff come up to him, a bit like a human Cochrane Clinical Answers. It is possibly the fastest paced environment that a CL works in.

Lessons learnt

  • When people ask you to do a systematic review, or in my case a literature search – ask as many questions as possible but particularly: What do you mean by a ‘systematic review’? and What’s your deadline?
  • Being proactive and tenacious is key to establishing a new CL service. Provide the search that team needed but didn’t ask for. Don’t give up because a department didn’t take immediate interest.
  • Attend as many meetings as possible. Make connections with people on the wards, with heads of services, as many people as possible.
  • The CL role is very flexible. It can be defined in essence as meeting the information needs of clinical staff but these needs could be very different from department to department, from Trust to Trust and a CL needs to be flexible, creative and responsive to meet those different needs.
  • It is an exciting, fulfilling role where you can see the impact you have on staff, their practices and patient care.

Many thanks to Health Education England for funding my place at the ICLC 2017. It was an invaluable experience and from it I can say that I would definitely look to apply to CL posts in the future.

Lorna Dawson
Knowledge Service Assistant
Greater Manchester Mental Health

5 Top Tips to Reach Public Health Teams

Positively promoting health and wellbeing and preventing ill health has arguably never been more important. Responsibility for local public health services rests with local authorities. Public health professionals face a complex task. They work in locally specific, politically sensitive and financially constrained contexts.

Evidence from research and learning from best practice are key to their success in influencing decision-making. Yet, the fact is that some 40% of local authority public health teams do not currently have access to healthcare library and knowledge services.

Where information professionals have been able to apply their skills they find it rewarding work, and quickly prove their value.

“Public health staff are keen, appreciative and great ambassadors for our service. Sometimes they search themselves, sometimes they ask us – searches can be complex but have given us the opportunity to stretch develop our knowledge and skills.”

Anne Lancey, Library Service Manager, Isle of Wight NHS Trust

We don’t underestimate the challenge of reaching public health teams – but that 40% gap represents a real risk for them and an opportunity for NHS library and knowledge services to make a significant contribution. What can you do?

1 – Benefit from the experience of colleagues

We’ve drawn on the experience of the knowledge specialists and library teams already supporting public health to create a public health toolkit for NHS librarians who want to reach out to public health. It will also be useful for those looking to further develop their service offer. The Toolkit covers the basics – like ‘What do public health staff do?’. Critically it also covers the nitty-gritty – practicalities such as service specifications and charging models.

‘I’m fairly new to the NHS, so found the networking/best practice support sections of the toolkit most useful. That said the SLA elements will be very helpful when it comes to renewing our agreements in 2018”.

William Henderson, Assistant Librarian, Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust:

2 – Join lis-publichealth

Join the growing community of information professionals who support public health and/or want to share ideas and learn from those who do. Sign up here.

3 – Connect with Public Health England librarians and knowledge specialists

Are you linked with the PHE knowledge and library specialists in your area? They don’t provide direct services to local authorities – hence the opportunity for enterprising NHS librarians. However, they can support NHS librarians by producing guides, sharing tips, coordinating networks and helping you to make contacts.

4 – Come to the PHE study day on Wednesday 15 November in London

NHS librarians supporting, or aspiring to support, local authority public health staff are warmly invited to attend the PHE knowledge team’s annual study day in London. There’ll be speakers from PHE, NICE, NIHR and CHAIN. It’ll be a great opportunity to network, learn and debate. Watch out for details on lis-publichealth.

5 –Be ready to seize fresh opportunities to make an impact and to strengthen your business

Local authority public health staff now have access to the 1,300 plus full-text journals funded by PHE, as well as the core content titles purchased by the NHS, via a new bespoke discovery portal. PHE knowledge staff will promote the portal, and this is a perfect opportunity for NHS library managers to step in with the offer to provide value-added knowledge support services to local authority staff.

Helen Bingham, Head of Knowledge Services and TEL, HEE (South) & Wendy Marsh, Senior Knowledge & Evidence Manager, PHE

 

Fake News, Evidence Ignored and Knowledge Dismissed

We cannot fail to notice, both professionally and personally, the discussions taking place about information, evidence and knowledge.  How information is used, misinformation shared, known evidence dismissed and knowledge withheld.

One example of fake news was described on Newsnight on August 23rd 2017*. An American travelled 500 miles with a rifle to “self-investigate” a pizza restaurant where an alleged paedophile ring operated and kept under-age children against their will. This news had been reported widely in print and on social media. The source of this news was an investigation into the emails of Hillary Clinton’s personal campaign manager. It was reported that the emails contained the words “cheese pizza” which were thought to be code for “child p-graphy”. The two words shared the same initial letters: c and p. Three shots were fired in the restaurant, there were no under-age children being held and thankfully no-one was hurt.

As we can see from the fake news story, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” (itself a misquote from the poet Alexander Pope) but knowledge can also empower us, enable us to say “no”, to achieve, to understand, to form judgements and to make decisions.

We work every day to collect and supply information, signpost evidence and ensure knowledge is mobilised and used in our organisations.  We enable evidence to be used in decision-making, we support the growth of knowledge rich organisations as well as delivering training to help staff critically appraise or discern the usefulness and validity of information. It is that learnt skill that enables wise choices and the avoidance of “fake news”, or in our terms, weak evidence.

But we also need to turn the spotlight on ourselves and ask ourselves questions too.

How do we use information, evidence and knowledge? What is the weak evidence that we use to justify our policies and practices? What are the knowledge needs, preferences and behaviours of the healthcare staff, students, patients and public who use our services? To help us understand these knowledge needs and preferences, two librarians in the South have created a bulletin for us to use.  Please read the bulletin, critically appraise what is included and collectively and individually let’s constructively challenge one another to ensure that facts matter, evidence is crucial and knowledge enables good decisions to be made.

The bulletin will be produced four times a year in September, November, January and March. It will be circulated via your library and knowledge services leads, so look out for the September edition due very soon.

Sue Robertson
Knowledge Services Development Lead (South)

* Eugene Robinson. Newsnight. 23rd August 2017 https://subsaga.com/bbc/news/newsnight/2017/08/23.html