As we rapidly approach a nadir on the Streamlining Group’s work at reviewing document delivery and supply we are gaining an integral understanding of what is a complex area. “Scratch the surface” or “opening a can of worms” are two phrases that have come to mind during the past few months, but recommendations for some key actions there will be. The potential is there to radically transform and streamline the way the NHS shares its knowledge, saves money and ultimately provides an ultra-efficient and equitable service to its end users.
The group is working towards the creation of a national policy on document supply by reviewing the existing regional policies and policies of other collaborative networks such as NULJ, PLCS and FIL (Forum for Interlending). There is a great deal of similarity amongst them, however we also need to be aware of where local practice may be “best practice” and incorporate this into our standards.
The contentious area of charging was raised in the previous blog posting from the group and elicited a number of comments. This is a difficult area to assess due to significant local variance and the reasons as to why a charge is in place. Close collaboration with other K4H workstream areas will be required to find a solution acceptable to everyone.
Nine years ago a business case was written, “NHS Interlending & Document Supply Services: Strategic Business Case”, but was never adopted as an action or a viable solution at the time. Many of the issues highlighted remain the same today and although we are not developing a new business case the group has taken on some of the recommendations from that document. A key part of the group’s work has been to scope out the practical and technical requirements of a document supply/interlending management system and this appears to have morphed into a beast of its own and there is hope that at a future date this may underpin document supply work within the NHS.
This work though is very much step-by-step and the group intends to deliver robust recommendations regarding document supply. As a first step the creation of a national union list of journals is core as this will make visible and increase accessibility to the journal resources owned by the NHS. Fundamental is the understanding that if a resource is purchased by the NHS, then it should be shared across NHS boundaries. This should reduce reliance upon external providers, often at cost, and will also in time allow for the creation of a national collection policy. At present we don’t know what we have!
What will be the impact upon regional schemes? Initially there should be minimal impact and the national union list will supplement membership of these schemes, however with the possible development of a national management system change will probably be required. Some regional schemes are already being transformed, amalgamated or have developed shared protocols. ULSERS will be no more soon and who knows what a new scheme may have as an acronym. It’s all NUTS to me anyhow….
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