National Core Content Procurement – Survey Feedback

To follow Richard Bridgen’s update on the national core content procurement work, I’d like to follow up with a short post to mention how we used feedback from January’s survey of NHS library teams to refine the selection criteria for HEE-funded digital knowledge resources.

As a reminder, selection criteria are high level criteria used at the start of the procurement process (the ‘invitation to quote’ stage) to guide our decisions about which resources to seek quotes for, and then again at the end of the process, to select and justify the final resources purchased. They are thus different from evaluation criteria which are used in the middle part of the process, to evaluate all capable providers.

The responses to the survey question about selection criteria were mostly very helpful. They helped further define the criteria we had already proposed, for instance to reflect the aspects of ‘quality’ and of ‘breadth’ that you feel are important. For instance, currency of content (lack of embargoes) is clearly regarded as important, and many survey respondents highlighted the need to try to better cater for specialist groups. Survey responses also pointed to the need to include ‘continuity’ as an additional criterion: many of you commented on the value of long term stability and the fact that if a resource has been purchased centrally for some years, funds which may once have been used to purchase it locally will have long since been diverted elsewhere!

Some of the suggestions for ‘additional’ selection criteria – such as access via mobile devices, interoperability, service availability, stability of content, customer support – were a useful reminder of what is important to customers, but are in fact already built into the Framework Agreement procurement process. This is because they are included in Framework as service requirements: suppliers will not have been included on the Framework unless they can demonstrate they meet these requirements. Some of the suggestions were unfortunately too broad to be useful without further clarification (‘usability’ was our favourite in this category!).

So in summary, as a result of your feedback, we have added widened our definitions for all criteria, and added continuity to the list, which now looks like this.

Breadth: this resource will contribute to a collection which supports our aim to provide the NHS workforce in England access to resources which support the range of NHS functions, specialisms and priorities;

Quality: this resource supports our focus on resources which healthcare and knowledge professionals regard as being of high quality. Key indicators of quality are currency, authority (peer-reviewed content, expert editors) and relevance;

Value for money: there is evidence that

  • central or collaborative procurement of this resource provides a clear discount on local procurement
  •   if this resource were not purchased centrally or collaboratively, many organisations would seek to purchase it locally;
  • current or anticipated usage of this resource indicates that full text cost per download is/will be less than the cost of access via document delivery

Discoverability: this resource is likely to be readily discoverable via multiple routes, including the NICE-provided infrastructure and current/future alternative routes;

Recommended by LKS: a significant number of LKS think it is essential or highly desirable to include this resource amongst those purchased centrally;

Continuity: it makes sense to continue to make procure this resource centrally/collaboratively, because it meets other criteria and there is dependence on its continued availability/discontinuation would have a significant adverse impact.

Thanks again for your input.

Helen Bingham
Head of Knowledge Services and TEL, HEE (South)

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