Employers and Leaders

Key Information

NHS England is the strategic lead for NHS Knowledge and Library Services on behalf of the system.    

As a senior team we are committed to a compelling ambition to drive transformation and success across the healthcare system by ensuring the right knowledge and evidence is used at the right time. 

Healthcare is a knowledge-based industry. Knowledge for Healthcare 2021-2026 sets the strategic direction for the development of NHS knowledge and library services. The priorities are to enable all NHS staff and learners to benefit equally from high-quality knowledge services, and to optimise the expertise of knowledge and library teams to inform decision making. 

The Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework (Outcomes Framework), is part of the wider Quality Framework for NHS organisations that receive funding to support education and training through the NHS Education Contract. It is a requirement of Placement Provider to “ensure that there is a proactive, high-quality knowledge and library service that is available to all staff and learners” (‘NHS Education Contract’, 2021-24). 


We have a range of relevant polices which provide recommendations to guide the delivery of NHS Knowledge and Library Services.  

Value and Impact

There is a positive return on investing in NHS knowledge and library services. An independent economic evaluation reported that professionally staffed health knowledge services deliver a cost-benefit ratio of 1:2.4. Where knowledge managers provide evidence searching and summarising services cost-effectiveness increases to 1:3.85. Knowledge specialists take the ‘heavy lifting’ out of getting evidence into policy and practice and release time for healthcare professionals.  

“This report tells us how a properly funded library and  knowledge service provides clinical and non-clinical  staff the gift of time. That time comes from finding  good evidence to support clinical and non-clinical  decision making, providing resources that support  work and study and the space to do that study.” quote from SASH person  Paul Simpson Chief Finance Officer Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust  

Learn more about your current local provision

Across England there are 177 knowledge and library services employing 1200 specialist staff who provide services to 224 NHS organisations.  There is an ambition to grow this specialist workforce.  Work is underway with local services to identify opportunities to widen access across integrated care systems or place-based footprints.  Find out about 9 Steps you can take to ensure decisions are underpinned by evidence. 

Find your local NHS knowledge and library service.

Additional Information

Mobilising evidence and knowledge 

Work with your local health library and knowledge specialist to use the knowledge mobilisation self-assessment tool and checklist to craft an action plan to maximise your use of evidence and knowledge to inform decisions.  This contributes to the development of a Learning Health System.  

Addressing Health and digital literacy  

Did you know that 43% of adults aged 16-65 struggle with text-based health information and that increases to 61% if the information also includes numbers? If you work in planning and commissioning health care in your area you may be interested in our free, online geodata tool which gives you place-based information on health literacy by local authority area and our work to improve health and digital literacy in England. 

Developing the specialist workforce 

The Knowledge for Healthcare Learning Academy offers a range of accredited learning opportunities by CILIP, the library and information association.  These facilitate the development of your knowledge and library services team. In addition, there are resources available for skills mapping, role redesign and career development. 

Accessing published evidence 

Ensuring that organisations meet their duty under the Health and Care Act to use evidence from research to inform decision making, we provide centrally purchased high-quality knowledge resources accessed by a single digital infrastructure.   

The NHS Knowledge and Library Hub enables you and your workforce to get quick and free access to high quality knowledge and evidence resources.  The nationally provided clinical support tool, BMJ Best Practice can be embedded into your electronic health records system.

Visit the staff, students and trainees section to see what is available to support your teams and you as an individual.