Frequently Asked Questions

HDAS Native Interfaces Discovery eBooks with Kortext Other FAQs


When will HDAS be decommissioned?

  • NICE plans to decommission HDAS at the end of March 2022.

What steps is HEE taking to mitigate the loss of HDAS?

  • Procurement of a new National Discovery Service is underway
  • It will meet the majority of the search needs of the wider workforce
  • The Service should be launched by October 2021
  • Networks of library services are piloting the move away from HDAS to be ‘early adopters’ of native interfaces
  • We will support these pilots and use their learning to shape the training and support required for other library services to make the move
  • HEE will also be exploring alternative technology-driven tools which may help expert searchers
  • We have recruited two part-time secondees to support this work

Native Interfaces


Which databases are available from which provider?

CINAHL Medline
Wolters Kluwer (Ovid)

Is it possible to link to full text from the native interfaces?

  • Yes. This is possible with the national link resolver but it needs to be set up locally. HEE will provide a reminder about how to do this.
  • The specification for the national discovery service requires a link resolver to support:
    • Full text linking from the native interfaces
    • Full text linking  from the discovery service search interface

Do we know that native interfaces meet accessibility standards?

  • NICE has asked Framework Agreement suppliers to confirm that they are compliant with, or are working towards being compliant, with the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018
  • This will be a mandated requirement in the new Framework Agreement and in the next round of national core content contracts (from April 2023 or April 2024)

How far can we work with database suppliers to influence search interface development and tailor training to our needs?

  • The database suppliers are already keen to work more closely with HEE to deliver training tailored to the needs of NHS library staff and end users
  • We will explore this with them during the transition plan
  • We will influence interface development through the contract management process.  The extent to which this may be possible is likely to vary between suppliers.

Will end users be expected to use native interfaces?

  • We expect the majority of end user search needs to be met by the new National Discovery Service
  • The specification for this service requires functionality to meet the needs of  infrequent (‘novice’) searchers and more advanced searchers
  • The most valued HDAS search features have been included in the specification
  • HEE recognises that some end users will need to search the native interfaces.  We will ensure that database suppliers offer appropriate training resources for NHS staff.

What do we know about non-librarian expert searching?

  • When we looked at the most frequent users of HDAS, the vast majority were library staff
  • With librarians providing expert evidence search services for the NHS, this is to be expected
  • We also know from the end-user research we carried out in 2019 that many members of the workforce are searching on other platforms
  • About 10% of HDAS users are from other staff groups including pharmacists, research practitioners and quality improvement teams
  • Non-librarian expert searchers will need support to transition to other interfaces and move their saved searches

What kind of training will be provided for librarians and other expert searchers?

  • During the pilot phase, we will work with native interface providers and librarians to develop a training programme
  • This will likely take the form of a range of librarian-mediated training supported by a range of “how to” videos and guides from suppliers
  • The training programme will be delivered to LKS networks from January 2021
  • We will update national e-learning and co-ordinate train-the-trainer resources



Why do we need a new National Discovery Service? 

  • The current national resource discovery architecture comprises HDAS and the national link resolver and knowledge base only surfaces journal content.
  • User discovery research tells us that healthcare staff want to be able to search in one place for all types of high quality, trusted knowledge resources.
  • An increasing number of NHSfunded library services have been responding to this need by implementing local discovery systems.
  • This is increasing the money and time spent configuring and maintaining local systems.  It leaves large sections of the healthcare workforce, including those working outside Trusts, unsupported.  

What are the benefits of the new service? 

  • A single national gateway for all staff in the NHS in England 
  • A platform to search for and access all high quality, trusted knowledge resources including national and local e-resources 
  • Following library management system integration, a platform that will also surface print collections 
  • An interface that connects users to services and support from libraries 
  • An intuitive search experience that meets the needs of novice and more advanced searchers.  This will including semantic searching and a range of options for limiting results. 

What’s the timeline for procurement and implementation? 

  • The deadline for suppliers to submit bids was Friday 7 August
  • Five submissions have been received and they are now being evaluated by a panel
  • The panel that includes members of the HEE Resource Discovery team, LKS representatives from different regions and colleagues from NICE and the HEE TEL team
  • The successful supplier will be announced in November 2020
  • Configuration and implementation will start in December
  • The plan is to have a version ready for live testing in the summer of 2021 and for full roll-out in October 2021

How was the specification drawn up? 

  • The specification for the National Discovery Service was informed by two years of research and engagement
  • During this time:
    • We gathered evidence of library staff and end-user needs
    • We held structured pre-procurement discussions with a range of suppliers in the discovery eco-system.  This was to test out some of our ideas and assumptions about discovery platforms and how they interact with other systems. 
    • Ken Chad, a consultant with a vast experience of library management system and discovery procurement, produced the core specification: National Discovery Service Specification – Appendix A Requirements – Response Template (PDF). 
    • This was based on the: learning from the research and engagement iterative process; our knowledge of the most valued features of HDAS

How will you keep us informed about this project? 

  • Communication and engagement are key to the success of this project
  • We will be presenting updates on the work through regional and network meetings
  • We will hold workshops for library staff through the implementation period and beyond
  • We will also update you through the blog and briefings as we reach milestones in the project

How can I get involved in the implementation? 

  • It is vital that knowledge and library staff are involved in implementing the National Discovery Service so that it delivers what you and your end users need
  • Until we have completed the procurement, we don’t know exactly how implementation will work
  • This is because it will be steered by the successful supplier.  We will announce more about this as soon as we can. 

My service already has a discovery system. What will the National Discovery Service mean for me? 

  • The National Discovery Service aims to match the functionality of the best local systems
  • By making the most of interoperability with other regional and national infrastructure, you should see an enhanced level of back-office functionality
  • The National Discovery Service should also provide a consistent experience for end-users, especially those moving between placements and posts
  • For all these reasons, we hope that you will see the benefits of moving your users onto the National Discovery Service over the course of the project

What databases will be searchable through the National Discovery Service? 

  • The National Discovery Service is designed to provide NHS staff with “a single, coherent national gateway to their trusted library and knowledge service”
  • It will connect them seamlessly to quality resources, services and support tailored to their needs
  • At its heart will be the National Core Content collection of databases and e-resources
  • Users will also be able to search locally procured content and additional, curated sources
  • A phased programme of integration with library management systems will enable print holdings to be discoverable through the same interface
  • Basic and more advanced search functionality will mean that the National Discovery Service will meet the day-to-day search requirements for the majority of the NHS workforce

Is the new National Discovery Service an exercise in cost-saving?  

  • No. The National Discovery Service is a significant investment by HEE on behalf of the NHS in England.
  • The primary drivers are:
    • improve the quality and consistency of end-user discovery
    • increase use of NHS-funded and curated knowledge resources and library services
  • The new service should deliver systemwide cost savings on the purchase of local discovery systems,  and free up funding for investment in other library resources

Do library staff need to worry about their jobs? 

  • No
  • The National Discovery Service has nothing to do with cutting jobs
  • In fact, library services which have implemented discovery systems report that they tend to increase use of library services
  • This includes generating more requests for resources which are discovered but not immediately accessible
  • Where staff time is released by the National Discovery Service, this will allow more customer facing work to extend the reach of library and knowledge services across the whole of the NHS

What happens if the National Discovery Service is not compatible with local IT systems? 

  • As part of the specification, we have asked suppliers what minimum browser compatibility will be required for a good user experience
  • We will work with NHS Digital and our network of contacts through Chief Information Officers and other stakeholders to make sure the implementation is as widely supported as possible

Will the National Discovery Service be single-sign-on? 

  • The National Discovery Service will use OpenAthens authentication and link resolving to external resources will at least match the user experience on existing platforms such as Journals A-Z
  • We have asked the suppliers to indicate in their submissions how they will work with us to ensure the user journey is as seamless as possible.  We will collaborate with colleagues at NICE and JISC to make sure this happens. 

How will I train my end-users on Discovery?

  • Librarians who have a Discovery system tell us that many users are self-sufficient with basic searching on Discovery.
  • They may demonstrate the system, for example at induction, or give pointers at the enquiry desk.  Little formal training is necessary.
  • This frees up time for library staff to offer more tailored support for those doing  expert, more complex searches that aren’t well suited to Discovery or to provide expert evidence search services

Alternative Tools to Support Expert Searchers

Which ‘alternative tools to support expert searchers’ will HEE be considering?

  • Our secondees will investigate the types of technologies with the potential to address the needs of expert searchers
  • These may include AI/machine learning approaches, robot search, federated search, a combination of these or something we haven’t yet heard about
  • The starting point will be the needs of expert searchers, as defined by the user discovery research
  • Through HEE’s work on the 2019 Topol Review and the current CILIP Technology Review, we have a good range of contacts in industry and academia.  We also have links with expert searchers who are already using some of the tools.

eBooks from Kortext


What are the benefits of purchasing books via Kortext over other providers? 

  • The credit access model means that the ebooks are available in perpetuity; you will not pay annual subscription fees
  • It gives NHS Trusts in England the opportunity to build a wider collection by sharing local purchases for the benefit of all participating libraries
  • A great reading experience – Kortext won an excellence award at the ASPIRE awards in 2019 and has been awarded gold status, achieving a 100% ASPIREreview score for accessibility.
  • Its enhanced interactive e-books come with added features including:
    • Links to external resources, videos, and a range of interactive tests
    • A range of display options: you can select a ‘Dyslexia’ font or change the background colour for example.
    • The ability to add highlight sections of text, add your own notes and e-mail them.
    • The ability to export details directly into Reference Management software such as RefWorks or EndNote

How does the collaborative model work?

  • There are four regional ebook collaboratives: North; Midlands and East; London and KSS; South
  • HEE is providing funding for each regional collaborative
  • Books purchased for each regional collaborative will be available to all NHS OpenAthens Organisations within the region
  • Library services may form sub-regional collaboratives to buy additional titles
  • These titles will be available only to members of the sub-regional collaborative
  • Credits are shared across collaboratives

How do I login to Kortext?

  • When you access, type or select the name of your Trust from Sign in to browse your institution library
  • Sign-in with your OpenAthens username and password
  • Once you have signed with your OA account you will see the ebook discovery page
  • From here, search for ebooks in the Collections tab. Open and read
  • Access the ebooks you have opened in the Books tab

Do you have to create a Kortext account? 

  • Yes, if you wish to use the Kortext app.  Access on your desktop.
  • Type or select NHS in England from ‘Sign in to browse your institution library’
  • Click the purple arrow and sign-in with your OpenAthens username and password
  • At the Kortext eBook discovery page, select the three dots in the menu and Sign out
  • At the login screen, your OA email address will display in the username box.  Click Forgotten password.
  • Set your password
  • When using the Kortext app, use your OA email address and this password to log in

How do loans and credits work?

  • Books are purchased with a specific number of credits
  • Credits are reset each year.  For example, if a book has 400 credits, this resets to 400 on the anniversary of purchase.  Credits do not roll over.
  • A loan lasts for 7 days.  This uses one credit.
  • A credit is triggered after 5 minutes view time, by downloading it to the app, or by printing content
  • After 7 days the book expires and is removed from your bookshelf
  • There is no limit to the number of books you may add  to your bookshelf
  • Other users may view and download the book while it is in your bookshelf
  • Publishers may limit the number of concurrent users of a book.  If this case, you may find that the book is not available to view or download immediately.
  • There may be some titles that are not available in perpetuity or via the credit model; purchasing consortia will need to decide whether to buy these titles

How do we buy additional titles?

  • To join the regional consortia set up to buy additional titles, contact your regional resource discovery lead
  • Check whether the ebook you want is not already available in the Kortext collection
  • Email details of the eBooks you want to buy to Nadine Prowse, Kortext’s NHS Account manager. 
  • Members may set up a deposit account with Kortext for their purchases
  • More than one budget may be set up for each service’s account.  Expenditure reports will be available by account and budget.

How will I know if a title is already purchased or is being considered for purchase by another member of the consortium?

  • Check for titles already purchased by searching for it in the collections tab
  • When the NHS Store is live, you will be able to see what’s being considered for purchase by other library services
  • For the moment, this will be done manually by Kortext and you will be alerted if this is the case.

How will Kortext e-books work through Discovery systems? 

  • MARC records may be requested
  • WAYFless URLs can be provided to update existing records
  • Kortext are working with EDS, ProQuest and Ovid to share content metadata for discovery systems

Can users recommend books for purchase? 

  • Yes, they may recommend books in the Kortext Store
  • Users will need to add them to a wish list and email them to your service
  • Users may access the store from their bookshelf using the Store menu option

What statistics of usage can we get? By OpenAthens Organisation? 

  • COUNTER 5 reports are available by organisation
  • These may be downloaded via the NHS Store when it is live.  In the meantime,  contact Nadine Prowse, Kortext’s NHS Account manager. 

Are all of the titles in epub format? 

  • Some will be PDFs.  The format is publisher dependent.

Do you need additional software to download books offline? 

  • Yes, you will need to download the Kortext app. It is available for all platforms

Are Kortext titles covered by the NHS copyright license? (e.g. can a PDF from a Kortext book be shared with NHS colleagues)? 

  • The usual copyright rules apply (i.e. under the CLA NHS Licence, 5% or a book chapter may be shared with an NHS user)
  • If your organisation has access to the book, then you may share the URL with staff within your organisation
  • Users will otherwise be able to access the complete book by logging in themselves

Can Kortext support other languages? 

  • Kortext is currently developing a translation tool which will translate in real time

Where is the publication date of the book displayed? 

  • Inside the book on the reverse of the title page

Can the tutorials be downloaded outside of the system? for promotional material? 

 What will the user see if all credits have been used up on a book? 

  • ‘Not available’.  However administrators will be alerted ahead of time when credits are running low.

Other FAQs


How can I get involved?

  • The Expert Test and Review Group (TRG) undertakes testing work on content resources, platforms and search interfaces
  • For more information, or to get involved, contact Lucy Reid

Who funds the Cochrane Library and BNF?

  • NICE currently funds these resources on behalf of the NHS in England

Who funds the Core Content?

  • HEE funds the National Core Content.  It commissions NICE to manage the procurement process and the contracts with providers.

Is Trip Pro part of the National Core Content collection?

  • Not strictly.  HEE pays centrally for the whole of the NHS in England to have access.
  • Note that access to Trip Pro is via IP address
  • If you cannot access the Pro features of from your workplace, e-mail your organisation’s IP address to Jon Brassey

Will there be a searchable repository of the ‘Copyright Free Paid’ articles obtained by NHS users under the CLA Licence Plus?

  • This is the plan.  However, it has proved difficult to create a searchable repository of CFP journal articles which can readily be integrated into NHS library work flows..
  • Meanwhile, Reprints Desk from which you may obtain CFP articles, maintain a ‘virtual shelf’ of copies supplied to the NHS under the scheme
  • If you ask for something which has already been supplied, it will be supplied again ‘free of charge’, that is, without being deducted from our annual allocation.


[Page Updated: 16 October 2020]