All posts by Dominic Gilroy

Achieving an improved staffing ratio

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.

Recommendations:

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

Impact Case Studies:

Advice around obtaining figures for cost savings

There are currently over 250 impact case studies on the Knowledge for Healthcare listing. Many of these mention savings in terms of clinical and managerial staff time, and financial savings.  Very few of these, however, provide actual figures in terms of financial savings.

Such figures are, however, invaluable in adding to the weight of the impact case when used for national advocacy purposes.  It was decided to investigate the services who had successfully obtained financial figures for their case studies to determine whether there are any useful lessons or advice which can be shared for others trying to replicate their success.

Responses

Eight services were identifies as having submitted one or more case studies providing details of cost savings achieved.  These services were approached for details of any techniques, learning, and/or advice for colleagues wishing to replicate the success.

Seven services responded to this enquiry:

  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Michael Reid)
  • Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (Ben Skinner)
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (Sarah Lewis)
  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Uma Devalapalli)
  • Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Sarah Gardner)
  • George Elliot Hospital NHS Trust (Stephen Ayre)
  • Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Trust (Alex Williams)

Their notes, advice and reflections have been collated into a short report.

Summary

Key points from the above:

  • Those who have received services from the library are often keen to help.  Maximise this opportunity if you can.
  • Involvement with projects supported by a search from the start can provide greater insights into the impact of the work.  Make the most of such involvement.
  • Using and analysing a questionnaire can provide signposts to those cases worthy of further investigation.
  • Allow time for financial savings to have been realised before following up
  • Use the personal approach where possible and interview colleagues to allow for focused probing with regard to details of financial savings.
  • Be flexible with the questions you ask and tailor the interview to the situation for best results.  This includes the language chosen.

While recognising that collecting data on financial savings can often be complex and challenging, we would encourage you to make use of the advice and learning included in the report when tackling impact in your own organisation.

You may also be interested to watch out for the latest paper on the NHS Clinical Librarianship study which is due to be published soon.   

It’s Open Access Week!

This year’s theme is particularly pertinent for us in health, and what better time to share with you developments in our network

Open Access Community of Practice

The Community of Practice is made up of 30 health librarians from across England, largely from the NHS but also the Kings Fund and Public Health England.

The group first met in May 2019 in London and participated in a programme of speakers including Kathryrn Funk from NLM; Frank Norman from the Crick Institute; and Sara Gould from the British Library.

We discussed and agreed upon what the priorities of the group should be and from this 3 sub-groups have been set up:

  • Repositories
  • Educational Resources for Open Access
  • A User experience piece of work to identify the motivations for NHS staff to engage with Open Access

The group also meet virtually on Webex sessions and a dedicated SharePoint site and associated e-mail list provides member profiles, space to share and work collaboratively on documents, and a central place to pool together our learning and discussions.

Members of the group have expressed a range of reasons for being part of this community of practice, from being:

 “keen to learn from colleagues on this group”

to knowing “how others have experienced managing organisational repositories to help inform the development of our digital archive.”

to having “a keen interest in grey literature – how to capture and promote unpublished works”

and being motivated by addressing how we “could make NHS research more accessible/visible, thus enhancing impact”

Interested in being involved?  Please contact helene.gorring@hee.nhs.uk

Plan S – big changes in publishing ahead

Plan S was launched in September 2018 and is a renewed and much bolder initiative to make all publicly funded research open access. The initial deadline for this was 1 January 2020, but based on feedback submitted, it has now been extended to 2021.

It calls for:

  • all research to be made immediately and completely available on publication, either in a compliant open access journal or an open access platform – no embargoes, no hybrid publishing.
  • any publication fees to be paid by the research funder or the author’s university (not by individuals) and for these fees will be standardised across Europe and be capped.

Other key principles of Plan S are that:

  • Authors retain copyright of their publications and impose no restrictions (preferably using Creative Commons licences)
  • Universities, research organisations and libraries align their policies and strategies
  • The funders will establish criteria for Open Access journals and platforms, and provide incentives to establish these were they do not currently exist and the funders will sanction non-compliance.

How do we get ready?

In order to transition to open access, ‘transformative agreements’ need to be in place – a contract between libraries and publishers providing a shift between the traditional subscription model and open access publishing.  

We are liaising with Information Power Ltd who have been commissioned by the Wellcome to deliver on Plan S, to identify how we can gain traction with transformative agreements for the NHS. 

During their project, Information Power identified a specific challenge that will hinder the ability of some health journals to make a full transition to open access unless it is addressed, that being that journals with a high proportion of authors based in clinical settings (i.e the NHS) will struggle to successfully transition because these authors will not have access to funding for Article Processing Charges, they will not be covered by university transformative agreements, and nor is it a widespread practice for clinicians to share full-text via repositories.

Find out more on our revamped Open Access pages

Helene Gorring, Health Education England