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One year on, a global pandemic highlights the importance of evidence-based patient information.”

A year on after writing our project report on ‘making the case for evidence-based patient information’  the importance of evidence-based information has never been more vital. Health hasn’t been just the primary concern for health and care professionals or those individuals with health conditions, it has been the predominant topic for everybody globally.

The coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has created, what has felt like, a new industry of information for us all to consume, digest and understand in order for us to go about our daily lives. From following the current guidance to implementing changes to our libraries so we can re-open safely. We also have a role in supporting others in providing accurate and updated information on various aspects of Covid-19 too, to help give trustworthy information to inform their own health decisions and even simple day to day actions such as travel and socialising

The findings of our project report remain as relevant now as they did when we published it;

[1] Evidence-based health information makes a positive contribution to the health care system. The last few months has been a time of uncertainty, creating a sense of fear and anxiety for many of us. It has been challenging to keep track of the various channels of communication to identify authoritative information as well as shining a light on ‘fake news’ about Covid-19. When headlines citing ways of avoiding getting Covid-19 ‘through eating garlic’ or the assumption ‘only older people are susceptible’ to this infection, it provides for a confusing and potentially dangerous information landscape. Engaging our critical appraisal skills can help give others the reassurance needed to locate the most appropriate information or evidence they can understand and feel confident in its accuracy.

[2] The need for evidence-based health information is aligned with a number of high-level strategic priorities which support shared decision-making. The Health information Week web site for 2020’s campaign listed some useful questions to consider when looking at health information, including a number of resources that can be downloaded and adapted for local use. The new NHS LKS web pages  signposting members of the public to health information as well as included information and resources about Coronavirus which are easy to understand and accessible online for patients and the public alike.

[3] Library and Knowledge Services have a key role to play in influencing how health information is produced and delivered within local trusts. Since writing our report there has been a new UK-wide quality standard developed by the Patient Information Forum, TICK which can help us guide others in what they must do in order to provide robust and accurate patient information, one of the components being that it must be evidence based, to further make the case for this and highlight the contribution we can make.

[4] Sharing learning and experience across our networks – throughout the last few months NHS Library and Knowledge Services have demonstrated the benefits of sharing resources on Covid-19. Literature searches and lists of resources have been made widely available by local services so others can tap into more tailored and topics-specific information to support health and care professionals manage the tsunami of Covid-19 related information.

It would be good to hear examples of where NHS LKS have supported patients either directly or through those providing information to patients virtually during the pandemic.

How do we capture new learning and break down some of physical barriers highlighted in our report?

Emily Hopkins, Health Education England
Deena Maggs, The King’s Fund​
Victoria Treadway, NHS RightCare​
Vicki Veness, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust​
Jacqui Watkeys, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
Suzanne Wilson, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust​

Black Lives Matter in Health Libraries

“To show up imperfectly but open to change is better than not showing up at all”
@shopsundae, Instagram

On Friday 17th July, 76 healthcare knowledge and Library staff joined us for the Black Lives Matter in Health Libraries virtual discussion. It was led by Hong-Anh Nguyen and Natasha Howard who have previously delivered sessions on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to the healthcare library workforce and have acted as beacons in this work.

Natasha, Hong-Anh and I started to discuss ED&I learning opportunities last year. We wanted to push forward open conversations and galvanise us as a workforce to take more action. It might not come as a surprise that our initial idea was to have face to face workshops across each region, but due to the pandemic we had to explore the idea of doing something virtual. Then the world watched in horror as George Floyd was murdered by the people who were supposed to protect him and the Black Lives Matter movement exploded. I, like many white people or people with privilege, was suddenly uncomfortably aware that I wasn’t doing enough. That I wasn’t being anti-racist and that I needed to take action. Fully confronting your privilege and complicity is a deeply uncomfortable but necessary process, and once you have come to accept it, it is time to get to work. Seeing how many people booked on to this session made me realise that many of us feel the same way and that taking action in our professional lives can help make the changes we so desperately want to embody.

We asked the network which topics you wanted to discuss and we had some great questions. When we looked through them ahead of the event there were some clear themes emerging. These are the main questions that we worked through, although further questions and experiences were shared by participants throughout;

  • How can library staff, regardless of level or role, effect positive change and influence upwards where resistance is being met?
  • What does it mean to decolonise a library in the healthcare context?
  • How can libraries promote their EDI collections and encourage engagement with this topic through the resources they provide?
  • What should library collections relating to EDI or BAME groups be called? What language would be most appropriate and least offensive?

From our discussions it was clear that many of us are worried about doing or saying the wrong thing, but the clearest message I took away was to educate myself when feeling unsure. That’s why we have created a reading list of resources for you. This covers a wide range of media (articles, books, podcasts), educational tools to work through, broad themes on the topic to more specific information on diversity in libraries. We have made the recording of the event available for you to view and will soon publish a transcript of the discussion. Hopefully these resources will be the starting point for us in taking action in dismantling inequality in health libraries and our workforce.

One of the key things I’ve learnt so far is that it is not the responsibility of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic friends and colleagues to educate us about discrimination they may face to work, nor how our services contribute to that discrimination. Those of us with privilege can undertake that learning ourselves. I have made the commitment to being an ally through a process of lifelong learning. With that comes the understanding that I might not always get it right, but as long as we are trying then change can begin to occur. I hope you will join me.

Holly Case-Wyatt
LKS Development Manager, HEE London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex
lks-lkss@hee.nhs.uk 

Coronavirus information for patient groups

A key role for library and knowledge specialists through the pandemic is to signpost to trusted information. Notably, we can help NHS organisations fulfil their obligations under the Accessible Information Standard to provide information for patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss.

HEE’s Library and Knowledge Services team identified that it is difficult to find information about COVID-19 in accessible formats and for specific patient groups. In liaison with Public Health England, NHS England/Improvement and the Patient Information Forum, we have compiled information:

We will be adding information for carers, for people with specific conditions and on health and well-being.  Please help us to promote these invaluable resources to health and care staff and to information workers in other sectors.

The resources at https://library.nhs.uk  are the first part of a website promoting the work of NHS library and knowledge specialists to the healthcare workforce, the public and other stakeholders.  If you have thoughts on topics that you would like to see covered on Coronavirus or in the new website, please contact KFH.England@hee.nhs.uk