I’d like to thank you for invitation to contribute a piece to Northern Lights on my role within the Health Education Knowledge and Library Services Team. It provides me with an opportunity to stop and reflect on my new relatively new role as Deputy Head of Knowledge and Library Services.

The first thing to say is that role is evolving and changing. This could be said of all job roles in the modern world, but in this case it is especially true because of the reconfiguration of our service which took place in early 2021. The most significant change for our team, and for NHS Knowledge and Library Services in the North, Midlands, and the East of England, is that following David Stewart’s retirement we now share a regional Head of Knowledge Services in the form of Ruth Carlyle.

David was well known as the “Emperor of the North”, but Ruth has a much vaster geography to look after, stretching from the borders of Scotland to as far south as Essex. As Ruth’s deputies, Clare Edwards and myself are responsible for helping her to maintain an awareness of, and provide support for, knowledge and library services and organisations within this broad geographical area. We are aided of course by our skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced Development Managers, without whom the job would be impossible.

Although we work flexibly within the team, my main area of responsibility is for services within the North West, North East and Yorkshire regions. I am very conscious that my main area of knowledge is Yorkshire and the Humber having worked first as a Library Manager and then as regional Development Manager in this area for a number of years. I have visited a number of other Knowledge and Library services within the North in the course of my duties, but I’m conscious that there are many gaps.

Ideally an early part of the induction to my new role would have been a tour of services to meet staff and see the library spaces. Indeed, many dates were already in the diary before a pandemic intervened and curtailed this schedule. As a result, I’ve been limited to Teams and telephone calls to get to know some of the service managers in the North. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, HEE colleagues will be permitted to venture forth once more and I’ll be able to further expand my awareness and knowledge.

An important element of my role within the North is to act as a lead for issues around quality and particularly around the introduction of the new Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework. Aided by Joanne in the North East and Yorkshire, and Gil in the North West, we have tried to provide as much information as we can about the new process over the past few years. Some of this is through talking to knowledge and library specialists in services, but we are also doing work within HEE to explain the Outcomes Framework to our colleagues, especially within our Quality Teams where the Outcomes form part of the wider HEE Quality Framework.

Another major part of my role is as Workforce Planning and Development Lead. Colleagues who joined the recent Knowledge for Healthcare Strategy briefing sessions will know that this work covers a breadth of areas from encouraging new staff into the profession, to building new skills and knowledge, developing the talent pipeline, and much more.

Like much of Health Education England’s work, partnerships are essential for workforce development. The team works with Higher Education Institutions providing CILIP accredited qualifications to try and ensure that health knowledge and library services are featured on the courses. The most successful examples of this are ManMet and UCL where health library modules have been introduced on the programme. My own work in this arena has been with Sheffield School where a health library talk has featured on the curriculum for a number of years.

During late 2020 and early 2021 I worked with CILIP and other colleagues on the refresh of the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base and the associated Healthcare Sector Guidance. Recognising the crucial place of an up-to-date skills and competency framework for our profession, HEE sponsored this PKSB refresh and I provided a health library perspective on the working groups developing the documents.

My current work within the workforce arena includes developing and launching our Knowledge for Healthcare Learning Academy, preparing the next Development Needs Survey, and working with Health Education England’s National School of Healthcare Science to ensure knowledge and library services input to the development of a new Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Data Science. I work with Tracey Pratchett who leads on the delivery of our wonderful Leadership programmes, and with the CPD group who plan and deliver the outstanding learning opportunities for our workforce.

I could say lots more, but I hope this has provided a useful insight into my role within the HEE Knowledge and Library Services team.

Dominic Gilroy
Deputy Head of Knowledge and Library Services (North West, North East and Yorkshire)