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RWT Library & Knowledge Services: NHS Knowledge and Library Hub

Guide for Library and Knowledge Services


The NHS Knowledge and Library Hub connects NHS staff and learners to high quality knowledge and evidence resources in one place. 

Funded by Health Education England, it includes: 

  • journals, books and databases 
  • clinical decision support resources including NICE Guidelines and BMJ Best Practice 
  • resources purchased nationally and locally  
  • one-click links to full-text, request a copy or contact an NHS library

Full access is free to all NHS staff and learners using your NHS OpenAthens account. 

To access full text journals such as Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, enter the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub and click on the yellow bar. Enter your Open Athens account and select Browse Journals. Enter the title of the Journal which will display the available holdings.


NHS Knowledge and Library Hub FAQs

What is the Knowledge and Library Hub?

What are the benefits to me?

How do I get access and begin to search?

Can I search without logging or having an NHS OpenAthens account?

What if I move jobs within the NHS?

Why are we doing this?

What are the challenges?

Why should I use this system and not others available?

Is it costing the NHS money?

I need an in-depth, specialist search where can I get help if I don’t have the skills?

Where can I get help?

What is the Knowledge and Library Hub?

The NHS Knowledge and Library Hub connects NHS staff and learners seamlessly to a range of high quality knowledge and evidence resources all in one place.

Funded by Health Education England, the Hub is a single gateway and offers an intuitive search experience for quick searches and options for in-depth searches.

On it you can find, for example:

  • over 7,000 journals
  • books and e-publications including OUP handbooks
  • one-click access to full-text, request a copy or contact an NHS library
  • clinical decision support tools such as BMJ Best Practice
  • NICE pathways and guidelines
  • databases like Medline, EMBASE and CINAHL

Full access is free to all NHS staff and learners through their NHS OpenAthens account.

If you haven’t already register for NHS OpenAthens  

What are the benefits to me?

Whether you need published knowledge and evidence for patient care, management decision-making, education or research, or just professional curiosity, the NHS Knowledge Hub will provide you with a great place to start your search.

The Hub gives you options for doing a follow up in-depth search and/or contacting a librarian for assistance.

With the Hub, you should find it easier than before to directly link to the full-text of articles. This is because the Hub uses something called LibKey which HEE has funded to help save time and ensure the best use of NHS-funded and open access resources. Where it isn’t possible to provide a link, you can request items you require directly from your library, without having to retype details or use a different request form.

The Hub looks almost identical wherever you are in the country, but actually includes over 250 locally tailored ‘views’. Wherever you work, you get to see all the nationally-funded digital resources and resources that your local library service has made available.

Even if you work in an organisation which doesn’t have an NHS library service, you’ll get direct access to nationally-funded resources. Google is great but it won’t get you to the full-text of the resources that the NHS has paid for: the Hub will.

The Hub is set to expand. So far we have included one NHS research repository (you’ll find it includes all the research published by ambulance service staff in England) and one library catalogue of print books (staff working in the South West will also find print books in the Hub) but from year two we’ll be adding more repositories and more print book collections. We’ll also continue to refine the search functionality, based on user-feedback.

How do I get access and begin to search?

Go to, click on the link and login with your NHS OpenAthens account.

If you don’t yet have an NHS OpenAthens account, register for a free NHS Open Athens account.

Wherever you are, look out for a search box which looks like this:

Or a desktop icon which looks like this:

Can I search without logging in or having an NHS OpenAthens account?

Yes, though you won’t be able to access the full-text or paid-for content.

What if I move jobs within the NHS?

Until now, if you moved between trusts and were keen to keep up-to-date with evidence and research, chances are you would have had to familiarise yourself with different search options in each place.  

As long as you remember to update your NHS OpenAthens account when you move organisation, wherever you go the Knowledge and Library Hub will look pretty much identical, but give you access to everything your new organisation has purchased for its staff and learners.

Why are we doing this?

Our extensive user research found that, when trying to find knowledge and evidence to do their jobs, NHS staff and learners often face an overwhelming number of different places to look, many requiring a different password. Those with access to an NHS library service were better placed and really valued the help librarians provided, but even then, the set up was different in different trusts.

We wanted to give NHS staff, learners and students on placement a simple, easy to use, single gateway to trusted information – and the means to contact a librarian.

Exponential growth in the availability of knowledge and, evidence from a vast range of sources means it is vital that the NHS in England has access to trusted, high-quality information and resources where possible free at the point of need.

HEE has stepped into the breach to provide a solution which provides access to all NHS-funded and NHS selected resources, in one place.

This work coincided with the planned decommissioning of legacy platform supported by NICE called HDAS, Healthcare Databases Advanced Search, which only searched bibliographic databases and journals.

The Knowledge and Library Hub includes all types of knowledge and evidence resources.

HDAS had reached a point where it would need rebuilding, this, along with maintenance of the system into the future would be expensive, so Health Education England took the opportunity to invest instead in a more cost-effective solution with more content for more people.

What are the challenges?

This is a big change for many people.

We not only need to promote the benefits of the new Hub but also need to support a broad range of people in health and care professions that need to carry out in-depth specialist searchers and who are used to different systems.

We are confident the benefits outweigh the disadvantages but we don’t underestimate the work involved in making the transition as simple as possible for everyone it affects.

Why should I use this system and not others available?

HEE is funding this programme fully and while there is a cost attached to the work it will ultimately save time and money for the NHS.

Students and staff can waste valuable time navigating the current range of information platforms available.  Now they can go to one, trusted source.

Locally, trusts can save money as  library services will no longer need to configure and maintain their own systems.

Is it costing the NHS money?

HEE is fully funding the Hub and its linked services, on the basis that it will deliver improved value for money and improved return on investment for the millions that the NHS spends on digital knowledge resources, by making these more easily discoverable. We believe it will save time for staff and learners, and reduce the money and time spent maintaining local library discovery systems, which had been growing year on year.

I need an in-depth, specialist search where can I get help if I don’t have the skills?

Some staff and learners need complex searches for research, patient care or systematic review. Find your local knowledge and library servicefor help with this.

Where can I get help?

We have set up an NHS Knowledge and Library Hub service desk to help you if needed

RWT Library & Knowledge Services Building 11, Wolverhampton Medical Institute, New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton. WV10 0QP Tel: 01902 695322 E-Mail: Twitter: @rwtlibrary