Funding NHS Knowledge and Library Services in England: Policy Guidance for NHS Employers

FAQs – employer focus

Q:        What is NHS Education Contract (tariff) funding? 

A:         This is the funding paid to Placement Provider organisations to support the education and training of healthcare professional roles. The amount paid to each organisation is related to the number of trainees and students on placement in the organisation. For more information see HEE’s NHS Education Funding Guide.  

Q:        Why is Health Education England introducing this funding guidance for NHS Knowledge and Library Services?

A:        ‘Library’ funding is historically complex, characterised by inappropriate variation from setting to setting. Changes to education tariff in September 2022 enabled consideration of indicative arrangements. It is timely, therefore, to revisit the basis on which 1) placement provider organisations with a knowledge and library service determine the allocation of funding to the service, and 2) placement provider organisations without their own knowledge and library service reach a service level agreement with another organisation.

Q:        Are the recommendations mandatory?

A:        HEE is not seeking to mandate these recommendations but, rather, to offer indicative guidance to inform your funding arrangements/ allocations.

Q:        How will organisations be told?  

A:        Health Education England’s Regional Heads of Quality will be sharing this guidance with all placement provider Heads of Education from 5 October 2022.

Q:        How was the indicative guidance determined?

A:        As an indicative figure, it is recommended that a minimum of 2.4% of the placement fee paid by HEE is committed to knowledge and library services, to be matched by employer contributions.This percentage was identified through a review of funding provided by HEE for library services from tariff. The review was completed by HEE Finance in 2017 in response to an HEE commissioned, independent audit. It examined data from all regions over a three-year period. It identified the average funding to knowledge and library services from tariff as 2.4%. 

Using the 2021 tariff rates, updating the calculations produced in 2017 based on original tariff, the findings of the original work were confirmed.

Q:        Why is the employer being asked to match fund the 2.4% tariff contribution?

A:        HEE advocates the principle that NHS employers match education tariff funding to enable evidence-based practice and decision-making by their staff”

Q:        How do I find out how much my organisation receives in tariff?

A:        To understand the amount of tariff funding being received by a specific placement provider,  we suggest you contact the relevant finance team (for your organisation or the organisation with which you hold an SLA). If necessary, get in touch with your local HEE point of contact and we will do our best to assist.

Q:        The budget for my knowledge and library service is substantially higher than the recommended minimum.  Are you recommending we reduce the funding levels for our service? 

A:          No.  The recommendations are very much a minimum recommendation below which service will struggle to meet the organisation’s, and HEE’s, expectations.   

Understanding the economic benefits of investing in knowledge and library services outlined in the “Gift of Time” report, and the value to patients and the workforce, many NHS organisations allocate funding well above the indicative minimum. This allows them to resource high quality proactive knowledge services with the right team and the right resources to maximise the benefits. 

HEE is particularly conscious that these recommendations do not work as well for Mental Health/Community and Specialist Trusts where the number of trainees may be far lower than for larger acute Trusts resulting in a smaller tariff.  These organisations have historically provided a greater proportion of funding than has been possible from tariff.  This policy recommendation is not intended to challenge this arrangement but rather to provide the minimum level below which knowledge and library services will struggle to function.  

Q:        Does this guidance link to the Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework?

A:        The Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework reflects the requirement within the NHS Education Contract that placement providers will ensure there is an appropriate level of funding for NHS-funded knowledge and library services.  

Q:        How does this guidance link to Health Education England policy recommendations on knowledge and library staff ratios?

A:        It is recommended that Placement Providers in every setting:  engage with the knowledge and library service manager to ensure that the service has the right resources to offer proactive, high-quality knowledge and library services to all learners and staff.  Here is a link to all the policy documents relating to NHS funded knowledge and library services.

Q:        I have been told that my organisation does not receive any knowledge and library service funding via tariff.  Does this recommendation apply to my organisation?

A:        All placement providers receive a placement fee. The requirements are set out in the NHS Education Contract, which states that the Placement Provider will ensure that there is a proactive, high-quality knowledge and library service that is available to all staff and learners,  see section 14.

Q:        How can I work with the knowledge and library service manager to use HEE policies and guidance to optimise the impact of the knowledge and library service on the organisation?

A:        Senior managers can assist the knowledge and library service manager in robust business cases to secure funding for additional knowledge services and staffing. The influence of senior champions is invaluable in promoting the business critical role of knowledge and library services. An independent health economics study demonstrated the key features of a high performing NHS library service:  

  • The positioning of the Knowledge and Library Service in relation to the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committees (senior leadership role)
  • A leadership role in the governance and management of knowledge resources and assets (e-platforms)
  • That there is specialty/departmental alignment, preferably with embedded knowledge specialists
  • That they are an integral part of Quality Improvement teams

Q:        My organisation commissions knowledge and library services via a service level agreement (SLA) with a third party.  Does this indicative guidance apply? Will Health Education England be issuing guidance as to what proportion of tariff my organisation should be using to fund this SLA?

A:        Yes, it is recommended that a minimum of 2.4% of the placement fee paid by HEE is committed to knowledge and library services, to be matched by employer contributions., This applies to organisations with their own knowledge and library service, and to organisations which commission provision via a Service Level Agreement.

Q:        What will this mean for our budget?

A:        This indicative guidance does not change any resource paid to placement providers from HEE.

FAQs for knowledge and library services in England