The NHS requires proactive knowledge services as business-critical instruments of informed decision-making. Currently there is significant variation in the ratio of qualified librarians and knowledge specialists to healthcare staff, leading to inequitable service provision across England. This means that the Service is not uniformly able to draw on evidence for #MillionDecisions. The introduction of a recommended staff ratio is a key action by Health Education England to enable individual organisations to identify and address that risk.
For the first time this policy, agreed by the Health Education England Executive in November 2019, provides a set of recommendations from which trusts and arm’s length bodies may look to ensure, and where necessary continuously build, improved staffing levels.
1. To optimise the benefits for the NHS of the emerging new roles for librarians and knowledge specialists, HEE recommends that all NHS organisations:
- (i) review regular reports of the positive impact of the library and knowledge service on outcomes
- (ii) work with the local library service manager to prioritise allocation of clinical librarian, knowledge manager and other embedded roles to specialities
- (iii) take incremental steps to improve the staff ratio between qualified librarians and knowledge managers per member of the NHS workforce, through role redesign and by expanding this specialist workforce
2. HEE recommends that over time, all NHS organisations aspire to achieving a much-improved staffing ratio
3. HEE recommends that those NHS organisations with a staffing ratio in the region of the current average of 1 qualified librarian to 1,730 or more healthcare staff, strive to achieve a ratio of at least 1 qualified librarian or knowledge specialist per 1,250 WTE NHS staff.
4. HEE commits to monitoring the staff ratios annually and to reviewing the recommended ratio in three years’ time.
Organisations are invited to contact their local HEE Library and Knowledge service lead for support in progressing these recommendations.
Sue Lacey Bryant
National Lead for NHS Library and Knowledge Services