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NICE’s plans for the specialist collections

In Health industry, Information industry, Professional Organisations on July 8, 2010 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , ,

I noticed today a tender notice from NICE outlining their broad plans for the specialist collections. Here is an abridged version:

“Today, NHS Evidence provides access to 30 collections of specialist evidence content, the ‘Specialist Collections’. In April 2011, NHS Evidence will launch a redesigned and improved specialist evidence service. As well as the technical developments, topic coverage will be extended and greater emphasis will be placed on quality assurance and standardisation of processes and products across topic areas. The current Specialist Collection service is contracted out to 21 distinct organisations (with an overall headcount of approx. 80 staff). The contracts for these services are due to end on 31.3.2011. In order to achieve the quality, consistency and standardisation objectives listed above, NHS Evidence are aiming to rationalise the provision of the core service to three Clinical Hub Centres. One of these will be in-house and Manchester based. The other two will be contracted out. The purpose of this tender is the provision of the service of these two Clinical Hub Centres from 1.4.2011. Each contracted out hub will cover 8 to 10 speciality areas. Key activities of each centre will include hand-picking content from sources routinely ingested by NHS Evidence, searching and identifying content from specialist sources, tagging resources / allocating to an agreed taxonomy, identifying entries for UK DUETs (UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatment), preparing and programme managing Evidence Updates on selected key topics within the hub’s remit (there are currently over 60 Evidence Updates in total across all specialist collections, but this number is likely to increase). Managing and quality assuring the activities of each hub will be part of the service.”

There you are then. Make of that what you will. Nervous times for all involved, no doubt. Presumably the Kings Fund will go for one, given that they already manage three of the current specialist collections. Maybe a consortium up in Oxford (Oxford Radcliffe/CEBM)? They have their hands on a few. The University of Surrey currently manage three. The universities of Southampton, Sheffield and Warwick all have experience, as do a few London teaching hospitals (e.g. Royal Free). Any thoughts or inside information from anyone out there?

**Update 9th July**

It has been suggested that idle speculation about who might go for these Hubs is unhelpful, and that given people are stressed because some might lose their jobs etc. that it should best not be discussed. It is also noticeable that, apart from co-blogger Danni (thanks Danni!), there have been no comments made on the post, even though our stats suggest it has been viewed quite a number of times. I suppose I have four things to say:

  1. I’m just delighted when people other than my Mum read my posts
  2. We rarely get too many comments anyway *sigh*
  3. I’m a chatty blogger who likes to idly speculate. I also find it difficult to finish off blog posts. Ending after “… (e.g. Royal Free)” seemed a bit abrupt. I therefore lazily tapped out “Any thoughts or inside information from anyone out there?” just to round off the post in classic blogging style with a meaningless “what do you think” kind of way. I certainly never thought that I would get much response, let alone “Yes, I am a representative of organisation X, and we’re going for it”!
  4. I am aware that jobs will go, but also that new jobs will be created. I would never make light of the nervousness that we all feel during this time of uncertainty – for better or for worse, none of us have a job for life any more, and we all suffer from job anxiety. I apologise if it seemed to be in bad taste to speculate. However I do maintain that it is a topic of interest to a wide range of people, both inside and outside the NICE/specialist libraries axis, and that it’s right and proper that it is a point of discussion. Of course people on the inside will already have been speculating for a while, and will be much much better informed than I – they also would not start tapping out their inner thoughts on a forum such as this! But there are also people on the outside who are nevertheless interested in what’s going on, and some would be interested in speculation as to what’s going to happen next; and, I would suggest, why wouldn’t they be?

Basically, good luck to anyone who’s going for it, and double good luck for anyone whose job might be affected by it.

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3 Responses to “NICE’s plans for the specialist collections”

  1. 80 isn’t divisable evenly by 3… sorry to be the bringer of the doom and gloom, but I can’t see this sort of move to 3 ‘Clinical Hubs’ be anything but a belt-tightening exercise.

    I really would like to see something that is as valuable as BMJ’s Clinical Evidence, that isn’t a poor copy of it (being publicly funded is no excuse).

    I was pleased to see that the RSS feeds of the collections I had looked at were up to date (previously I’ve seen some old publications being presented as ‘news’). Oral health was an exception with front and centre headline news from April and May…and no RSS feed to be found.

    So, more uniformity would be appreciated, and a public health slant that saves healthcare practitioners, researchers and students time rather than being a collection of links would be a good starting point.

    I’ll watch the development of ‘Hubs’ with interest.

  2. A good update- I feel like my little comment might have added some negativity to those worried about jobs. I didn’t mean it flippantly. I’ve had 4 jobs in 4 years- many of them contracts. And not because I am itinerant. Double double good luck to all the staff who might be affected.

    So yes, chaos and change but I really really want to see the specialist libraries (I can’t help thinking of them still as libraries) succeed and be cherished.

    Thanks for the shout out, AL, but I am sort of cheating, being your co-blogger…

  3. That’s something I can certainly agree with – I think the specialist collections are a very valuable and useful resource, and I too would like to see them succeed. Arguably we need them now more than ever.

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