Employers and Leaders

Introduction for employers

NHS knowledge and library specialists take the heavy lifting out of getting evidence into practice. As an employer you can benefit from working with a NHS knowledge and library service team.

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 Gift of Time,and independent health economic study, identified the key benefits that knowledge and library services deliver for the and, specifically, the specialist knowledge within NHS teams.

We recommend that employers and ICS leaders follow 9 steps you can take to ensure decisions are underpinned by evidence this interactive poster can be read as a more accessible webpage .

Make the most of the skills and services offered by knowledge and library specialists for shaping the workforce of the future by considering How will NHS knowledge and library staff contribute to the delivery of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan?

Cover of the Knowledge for Healthcare strategy Image a lightbulb

Our policies

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

We also provide indicative guidance for placement providers on funding local NHS Knowledge and Library Services in England.

Our senior team

The senior team guide policy and lead on delivery of the Knowledge for Healthcare strategy as well as supporting our team of experts in their field to drive the NHS Knowledge and Library Service from a national and regional base.

Quality improvement outcomes framework

The second edition of the ‘Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework’ (Outcomes Framework), is part of the wider Quality Framework for NHS organisations in receipt of funding through the NHS Education Contract. It forms part of the requirement of Placement Provider organisations in receipt of funding through the NHS Education Contract 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).

The NHS Education Contract and Knowledge and Library Services

The NHS Education Contract applies to all NHS provider organisations in receipt of educational funding.  It states that all placement providers will make available “proactive knowledge and library services and knowledge specialists as well as evidence resources, accessible through suitable technology and appropriate learning space” and stipulates that access to library and knowledge services should meet the standards provided in section 14 copied below. 


 14.1 There is an expectation that Placement Provider organisations within every health system will work together to make sure that all NHS Staff and learners can benefit from proactive knowledge and library services. For advice on options and opportunities, please contact your HEE regional strategic lead for knowledge and library services kfh.england@hee.nhs.uk.  

14.2 The Placement Provider will ensure that there is a proactive, high-quality knowledge and library service that is available to all Staff and learners, whether this is hosted internally, delivered via a managed service level agreement with another NHS Provider or with a Higher Educational Institute.  

14.3 The Placement Provider has an agreed documented strategy for the knowledge and library service aligned to the Knowledge for Healthcare Strategy and to HEE policies including The NHS Library and Knowledge Services in England Policy, HEE Library and Knowledge Services Staff Ratio Policy, HEE Policy for NHS Library Learning Space and HEE Policy for emotional support for embedded clinical librarians, as well as the organisation’s own objectives and priorities.  

14.4 The Placement Provider will ensure that the clinical decision support tool, funded and provided nationally by HEE for all learners and NHS Staff, is actively promoted to underpin clinical decision-making.  

14.5 The Placement Provider will participate in agreed quality assurance processes to review progress against the HEE Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework for NHS Funded Library and Knowledge Services in England, use agreed performance metrics, and submit required reports on financial and activity statistics.  

14.6 The Placement Provider will ensure progression through the Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework maturity model levels for all outcomes. The Placement Provider will ensure that there is an agreed and implemented Service Improvement Plan in place for the knowledge and library service. This plan is required to reflect the requirements of The Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework.  

14.7 Where issues or risks are identified, appropriate interventions and a Development Plan must be agreed with the regional strategic lead from HEE’s national knowledge and library services team, with regular updates on implementation provided to agreed timescales.  

14.8 The Placement Provider will ensure that there is an appropriate level of Funding, both from education tariff and matched employer contributions, to support delivery of proactive, high-quality knowledge services.  

14.9 Placement Provider(s) Library and Knowledge Services Information return requirements 21/22: NHS Education Contract v1.1 98  

14.9.1 Placement Provider Annual Knowledge and Library Service Information return requirements:  

14.9.2 Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework self-evaluation return  

14.9.3 Knowledge and library service statistics workforce Part 1  

14.9.4 Knowledge and library service statistics activity Part 2 

Knowledge mobilisation

Use the Knowledge Mobilisation Self-Assessment Tool and checklist to consider how you use knowledge as an asset and work with your health library and knowledge specialist to craft an action plan to maximise use of evidence from research, good practice and organisational knowledge to inform decisions.

Some knowledge is not published but is individual or organisational ‘know how’. The NHS Knowledge Mobilisation Framework is designed to help individuals to develop and use skills to mobilise knowledge effectively. The techniques will help you to learn before, during and after everything that you do, so that pitfalls can be avoided and best practice be replicated. You can find out more about these techniques from the NHS Knowledge Mobilisation Framework E-learning or by using the set of quick reference cards .

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 want to know more, take this 35 minute e-learning course which includes simple tools that can help increase understanding.

For people with learning disabilities and autism, we have also co-produced two easy read guides to download. ‘Get ready to talk about your health’ prepares them for what to do before they go for a consultation with any health or care provider. ‘3 questions for better health’ suggests important questions to ask during an appointment.

For anyone working or studying in health and care, as well as for your patients, their families and carers, we have collected books and online links on general health and wellbeing – take a look at our Uplifting Resources and Your Health Collection.  The books are available to staff working a Trust via their health library, but most people will be able find the books in their local public library too.

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.

Find out more about our work to improve health and digital literacy in England.

Developing the knowledge and library service workforce

To ensure your organisation can respond effectively it is vital you develop your knowledge and library service team. The Knowledge for Healthcare Learning Academy offers a range of CILIP-accredited learning opportunities to facilitate the development of your knowledge and library services team, ensuring they are equipped to meet the knowledge and information needs of all NHS staff and learners.

To help your whole workforce keep up-to-date with the published literature help is on hand to develop information skills such as literature searching and critical appraisal.

Staff, trainees and students can use the literature searching E-learning modules to build confidence to search for published literature for articles and evidence relevant to work, study and research. There are seven modules suitable for novice searchers and those wishing to refresh their knowledge. To support healthcare professionals to develop invaluable critical appraisal skills, there is also an eight-module, Elearning programme: Critically Appraising the Evidence Base

How do I get help from my health library

Your local NHS knowledge and library service can help you make the most of centrally purchased resources and enable access to a wide range of additional tailored services to keep you informed and save you time.  These include expertise in retrieving and summarising evidence from research and good practice, circulating horizon scans and bulletins to keep you up to date, facilitating knowledge sharing activities, offering bespoke information, digital  and health literacy skills sessions and providing access to physical spaces for study, reflection and wellbeing.

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