NHS Library and Knowledge Staff Ratios Policy


The NHS Knowledge and Library Services in England published its ‘recommendations to improve the staff ratio for the number of qualified library and knowledge specialists per member of NHS workforce policy’ in November 2019. 

The NHS requires proactive knowledge services as business-critical instruments of informed decision-making. 

Currently there is significant variation in the ratio of qualified library and knowledge specialists to healthcare staff. 

This leads to inequitable service provision across England and the Service is not uniformly able to draw on evidence for decision-making.  

By introducing a recommended staff ratio Health Education England is enabling individual organisations to identify and address that risk.  

This policy makes a set of recommendations through which trusts and arm’s length bodies may look to ensure, and where necessary continuously build, improved staffing levels.   


To optimise the benefits for the NHS of the emerging new roles for librarians and knowledge specialists, HEE recommends that all NHS organisations: 

  • review regular reports of the positive impact of the library and knowledge service on outcomes 
  • work with the local library service manager to prioritise allocation of clinical librarian, knowledge manager and other embedded roles to specialities 
  • 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 

HEE recommends that over time, all NHS organisations aspire to achieving a much-improved staffing ratio. 

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. 

Organisations are invited to contact their regional HEE Knowledge and Library Services Lead for support on england.kfh@nhs.uk. 

For more information, please see the frequently asked questions page

Go to the NHS knowledge and library staff ratio policy.

Go to the Accessible version NHS knowledge and library staff ratio policy

Approved Health Education Executive 5 November 2019. Reviewed: Knowledge for Healthcare Board 2023