This was the second part of the Synthesising and summarising workshop following on from the session on 1st March delivered by Tim Buckley Owen. This session was delivered by Anne Gray who is a Knowledge Officer at Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit.
The aim of the day was to upskill library staff to be able to provide evidence and support for the business needs of their NHS trust/region. In order to do this, we need to be aware of what is happening in our trusts and region and to understand what the issues are that managers have to deal with.
We began by discussing all the people and organisations that NHS managers are accountable to, and there were a lot! These included NHS England, Secretary of State, the public, the media, NICE, CQC and many more.
Next we discussed who is present in the Trust boardroom. NHS libraries should be supporting these roles which include the Chief executive, Finance director, Clinicians, Nursing director, Service managers, Commissioners etc.
In order to support the managers in our organisation we should have an awareness of what issues they face. We need to understand the language they use and the best way to do this is to talk to them. We undertook a practical activity to see what we could find out about our respective organisations in the Health Service Journal and by looking at Trust board papers.
There has been research carried out on the behaviour of managers, they do think that getting good information is important. What managers consider to be evidence is different to what clinicians would consider. There is a broader field of material that is useful that could include their own experience or anecdotes as well as the more usual sources such as journal articles. Local experience and knowledge are key to making decisions, this is why we need to know about local issues and key people so that we can support the decision making process.
Managers have a number of questions they want answered such as how can we improve this service/pathway? How have others done it? Can we reduce the cost? They often find it hard to find the answers as they haven’t been trained to search for evidence, they may lack time to search and NHS sources are constantly changing. They don’t usually ask the library unless they have had previous contact.
Evidence briefings can be helpful to managers but often take too long to produce by which time the information is obsolete. Managers need the right information at the right time to aid their decision making.
It was suggested that teaching mangers searching skills is a waste of time and that we should search for them. Dealing with managers is different to dealing with clinicians, they require a different type of evidence, services should be targeted and tailored to their needs and information should be provided in a timely manner.
Next we spent some time looking at where we might find information suitable for managers or information to help us keep up to date with current issues. There were a lot of places to look which varied depending on your topic of interest. Some places to look were NHS England, www.parliament.uk, Health service journal, Social care institute for excellence, Cochrane library, Dissemination centre, NICE, Kings fund, The academy of Fab stuff, Public health England.
Finally, we discussed how to present the information we had discovered. As this session followed on from the one at the beginning of March we had already learnt how to pull information from a number of sources together in a report. Anne suggested that it was important to brand what is presented to the requester, document where you looked and make sure that people can link to the original evidence easily but don’t put links in the document as it will distract the reader. Make sure you document how long it took you to collect and arrange the information. Send the work as a PDF so that you can be sure it arrives looking the same way it left you.
There was a lot covered during the day. I found it very interesting reading the board papers as I wasn’t aware you could do this. We would find it very hard to provide a tailored current awareness service for managers and to anticipate their information needs as was suggested during the day. This would be a dedicated post in its own right, but it would be interesting to find some ways of supporting managers better as I don’t think we don’t do this well at all at present.