Value Proposition: the Gift of Time



Library services such as Brighton and Sussex NHS Library and Knowledge Service deliver a net economic benefit of £77m a year to the NHS.

This is the conclusion from a new HEE-commissioned report which was presented to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries on 2 November 2020.

The report, Value Proposition: the Gift of Time suggests that, if target staff ratios for librarians were to be achieved, that benefit could increase to £106m a year.

Libraries and librarians, and, in particular those working in specialist roles embedded within NHS clinical and managerial teams, make it possible for healthcare professionals to put knowledge and evidence into practice and give them the ‘gift of time’ which they can then spend with patients. This has both a direct and indirect effect on the care patients receive and a positive impact on NHS services as a whole.

Among the benefits the report identifies are:

  • Reductions in harm and ‘never events’ and associated negligence costs
  • Reductions in both inappropriate care and variations in care
  • Development of more cost-effective care pathways
  • Improvements in the use of buildings and facilities
  •  More effective and efficient procurement, administration and management

The central theme of the report is that libraries provide time-saving accelerated access to better quality evidence. The economic modelling is based solely on staff time saved; further research will investigate and quantify the wider value of improved access to higher quality evidence, and its impact on patient outcomes and experience, operational efficiencies and workforce development. An annex to the HEE report sets out the value libraries can add for trusts and primary care, for integrated care systems and for national bodies. 

Brighton and Sussex NHS Library and Knowledge Service recently published our Annual Report for 2019-20 filled with local examples of time-saving and feedback: 

“We received a request for a new drug to be added to the formulary. You offered evidence about the effectiveness and safety of the therapy and comparisons to other therapies. This informed the application for a drug that has a safer profile and is more cost-effective than the alternative currently in use” Pharmacist, BSUH

“We were updating our guideline with the latest advances in managing life threatening pulmonary embolism. You provided an evidence review on the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, which we incorporated. The use of ECMO will lead to improved outcomes when managing unstable young patients with life threatening disease.” Consultant in Emergency Medicine, BSUH

In 1932 an Indian librarian, S.R. Ranganathan, formulated Five Laws of Library Science. Nearly a hundred years on, his fourth law, “Save the time of the reader”, remains the central task of health libraries and librarians. Commenting on the report, Patrick Mitchell, Director of Innovation and Transformation, Health Education England, said, “Every politician; every system leader should be asking, ‘where is your librarian…?

Read the report and find out how NHS Library and Knowledge Services can save you precious time.