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.  This is planned to meet the majority of search needs for the wider workforce. The Service should be launched by October 2021.
  • Networks of library services are invited to express interest in 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 are recruiting a part-time secondee 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 existing national link resolver but currently needs to be set up locally. HEE will provide a reminder about how to do this.
  • A key requirement in the specification for the national discovery service link resolver and knowledge base is that it will enable full text linking from the native interfaces of bibliographic databases, as well as from the discovery service search interface.

Do we know that native interfaces meet accessibility standards?

  • NICE has already 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 that is tailored to NHS library staff and end user needs.
  • We will explore this with them as part of the transition plan.
  • We can seek to influence interface development through the contract management process, although the extent 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.
  • Our specification for this service highlights our requirement for functionality to meet the needs of both 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 e.g. mini-tutorials for NHS staff.

What do we know about non-librarian expert searching?

  • When we looked at 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 are from other staff groups including pharmacists, research practitioners and quality improvement teams.
  • These 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 be working with native interface providers and librarians to develop a programme of training to be delivered to LKS networks from January 2021.
  • 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.
  • We will look to 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, comprising 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, but this is increasing the money and time spent configuring and maintaining local systems – and 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 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 were received and they are now being evaluated by a 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 and configuration and implementation will start in December. The plan is to have a version ready for live testing in the summer of 2021 for full roll-out in September 2021. 

How was the specification drawn up? 

The specification for the National Discovery Service was informed by two years of research and engagement during which we gathered evidence of library staff and end-user needs. We also held structured pre-procurement discussions with a range of suppliers in the discovery eco-system to test out some of our ideas and assumptions about discovery platforms themselves and how they interact with other systems. Ken Chad, a consultant with a vast experience of library management system and discovery procurement, then led an iterative process to pull this learning, together with our knowledge of the most valued features of HDAS, into a detailed specification. Click here for the core document: National Discovery Service Specification – Appendix A Requirements – Response Template (PDF). 

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 as well as holding 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’s 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 because it will be steered by the successful supplier but 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 with the National Discovery Service. 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, connecting them seamlessly to quality resources, services and support tailored to their needs”. At the heart of this will be the National Core Content collection of databases and e-resources but users will also be able to search locally procured content and additional, curated sources. A phased programme of integration with library management systems will also mean that print holdings will also 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 driver is to improve the quality and consistency of end-user discovery and 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 systemsfreeing up funding for investment in other library resources. 

Do library staff need to worry about their jobs? 

No. Library services which have implemented discovery systems report that they tend to increase use of library services, including by generating more requests for resources which are discovered but not immediately accessible. Where staff time is released by the National Discovery Service, this will be channelled into more customer facing work and extending 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 be working 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 and 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, but little formal training is necessary.
  • This frees up time for library staff to offer more tailored support for those doing 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?

    • The person joining our team on secondment will help start to investigate the types of technologies with the potential to address the needs of expert searchers, to inform an options appraisal.
    • 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, as well as 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 we are using means that the ebooks are available in perpetuity.  You won’t have to pay annual subscription fees.
  • The HEE Kortext initiative provides NHS Trusts in England the opportunity to build a wider collection by sharing local purchases for the benefit of all participating libraries.
  • An enhanced user experience; using ePubs provides many more features including interactive content, adding notes and bookmarks to books on your bookshelf and more accessibility features such as changing the page background colour,  the font or text size.

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 these regions.
  • Library services may form sub-regional collaboratives to buy additional titles.  These will be available only to members of a the collaborative.  Credits are shared across the collaborative.

What’s currently available?

  • There is some content available.  This is due to expire at the end of September.  Accessing these ebooks will not trigger credits being used.
  • This will be replaced by content purchased with HEE funds.  It will be updated by additional titles purchased by regional consortia.
  • From 1 October, credits will start to be triggered as outlined in the ‘How do loans and credits work’ section.

Do you have to create a Kortext account? 

  • Yes.  When you access for the first time, type or select NHS in England from Sign in to browse your institution library.
  • You will then be prompted to sign-in with your OpenAthens username and password.
  • Once you have signed with your OA account you will be able to open ebooks.
  • Next time you access, enter the e-mail address associated with your NHS OpenAthens account in the sign-in box, and click ‘Forgotten Password’.  This will enable you to choose a password for your Kortext account.
  • Your Kortext account is now created.  Enter these details in the sign-in box to access the Kortext platform.
  • Please note that you need to do this on the desktop.  Only after you have created your account will you be able to access eBooks via the Kortext app.

How do loans and credits work?

  • Books are purchased with x 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 are not rolled over.
  • A loan lasts for 7 days.  This uses one credit.
  • A loan is triggered once you have selected a book.  It is made available in your bookshelf.
  • 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 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.
  • If not, you will be able to check the cost, access model and number of credits in the NHS Store when it is delivered.  In the meantime, email details of the eBooks to Nadine Prowse, NHS Account manager. 
  • Members may set up a deposit account with Kortext for their purchases or be invoiced for each order they raise? 
  • 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?

  • You will be able to check for titles already purchased by searching for it in the collections tab.
  • When the NHS Store is delivered, 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 delivered.  In the meantime,  contact Nadine Prowse, NHS Account manager. 

Are all of the titles in epub format? 

  • A few are in PDF, this 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 full 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 usual reverse 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), chaired by Nicola Ager, comprises volunteers from the library community who undertake 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, and 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 find that when you go to from your workplace, you cannot access the ‘Pro’ features, 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 for sourcing documents, which typically use journal title-level searching.
  • Meanwhile, if you use Reprints Desk to obtain CFP articles, they maintain a ‘virtual shelf’ of copies supplied to the NHS under the scheme.
  • If any of us ask for something which has already been supplied, it will be supplied again ‘free of charge’ i.e. without being deducted from our annual allocation.


[Page Updated: 16 September 2020]