Our vision: NHS bodies, their staff, learners, patients and the public use the right knowledge and evidence, at the right time, in the right place, enabling high quality decision-making,learning, research and innovation to achieve excellent healthcare and health improvement.
Patient and public information is incorporated into the Knowledge for Healthcare (K4HC) vision. For many of us in NHS libraries this will introduce a new service user as traditionally this has not been within our remit. Indeed for some NHS libraries our line management may not see it as a priority.
With K4HC however we have been given an exciting opportunity to broaden our services and become more directly involved with patient and public health information. This could mean as little as offering reference use of our libraries right up to engaging in direct conversations with patients. (Thames Valley and Wessex have already produced NHS Library Knowledge Services Guidelines for Handling Enquiries from Patients and the Public)
Service Transformation is one of 4 work streams and incorporates a Task and Finish Group for Patient and Public Information. This group met for the first time in May and has representatives from the 4 Health Education England regions.
So what is the task and finish group doing? Initially we have given priority to:
- Scoping existing practice. To do this we have been asking for examples of what services exist, however small. We have also been looking through the Sally Hernando innovations and Health Libraries Group Conference presentations. From these we will produce a document detailing current practice. This may give you ideas of ways to expand your service.
- Exploring collaboration with interested parties. This is an area where partnership working is key. On a local level this could mean closer working with local public library colleagues. Public libraries already offer health information as one of their services. On a national level there are many key players such as NHS England, Public Health England, Patient Information Forum (PIF) to name but a few. PIF gives some interesting advice.
Since the creation of this task and finish group the national picture has changed with the expansion of interest in health literacy. Patients need quality, trustworthy and understandable health information if they are to be partners in their own wellbeing and healthcare. If health literacy is a new concept for you then I suggest you look at Scotland’s national action plan. They are way ahead north of the border.
Promoting health literacy presents opportunities for us to have closer working with clinicians as they deliver health information to patients. There are many ways to engage with your trust staff e.g using our skills to guide healthcare staff in appraising consumer health websites or contributing evidence for patient leaflets.
Regionally it would be great to have your input to help support the national agenda. Would you like to contribute to this as part of a regional group or as an expert reference? If so please contact me.
A word of caution: involvement with patient and public information could take you and your service into areas quite unusual and perhaps out of your comfort zone! On a practical level for me I am now supporting various patient support groups in accessing health information on the internet and have been involved in editing a resource for those living with and beyond cancer (So what do I do now: the cancer manual)
Library and Knowledge Services Manager
Musgrove Park AcademyPatient
Musgrove Park Hospital
Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust