Imagine you are a nurse keen to ensure that your patients with atrial fibrillation receive the best treatment to prevent them suffering from stroke. Where would you start to look for not just the clinical evidence but also facts and figures on cost effectiveness?
NHS Evidence is a good place to start. It allows you to access more than 150 evidence based sources simultaneously, including National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines, the British National Formulary and the Cochrane Library. It is also home to the QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention) collection.
Here you can find a paper from NHS Improvement’s stroke programme, which pulls together information about the condition, the number of strokes that can be attributed to atrial fibrillation, the number that could be prevented and at what financial saving to the NHS, as well as case studies that have addressed this issue.
‘Keeping up to date is vital if we are to deliver the highest quality care. NHS Evidence was developed to make this crucial part of the job less time consuming’
Now, imagine you are a midwife looking for the most up to date guidance to inform your work. A simple search on NHS Evidence will not only return the relevant guidance, including Royal College of Nursing guidelines and publications, but also give you some indication of how good these guidelines are. The best are flagged up by our accreditation mark to indicate that they have been produced by an organisation that uses internationally recognised processes to develop guidance.
As a doctor, I know most nurses come into the profession with the motivation to provide patients with excellent care - and that means basing care on the evidence of what works best. I also understand the demands of the job can sometimes make this feel like an impossible task. Healthcare is changing rapidly and with the volume of medical research doubling every 20 years, trying to keep up to speed with the latest developments can be overwhelming.
After a busy ward shift, probably the last thing you want to do is read research papers, which may or may not be relevant to your job. However, keeping up to date is vital if we are to deliver the highest possible care. NHS Evidence was developed to make this crucial part of the job less time consuming.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council requires you not only to use the best available evidence to justify any decision making, but also to ensure that any advice given on healthcare products or services can be explained with reference to the evidence base.
Until recently, this was not easy. The information was available in theory but, in practice, finding it required specialist knowledge and skills. Since its launch in April 2009, NHS Evidence has changed that by providing free access to reliable health and social care information.
Using NHS Evidence allows you to locate quality information in the same straightforward way you might search the internet. On the home page, you will see our logo - an eye - and a search box where you can type in what you want to look for. It will return a search ranked for relevance that you can browse through.
You can also refine your search by area of interest - looking for commissioning guides, for example, or by defining clinical queries to look for therapies or diagnosis.
In addition to the simple web search, NHS Evidence allows you to access information from more than 30 digital specialist collections, which provide annual evidence updates on key areas, giving a straightforward and succinct overview of what new research and evidence has been published so that you don’t need to spend the time searching.
From the home page, you will also see a link to NHS Athens resources, from which you can use your Athens login to view e-books, journals and healthcare databases purchased for NHS staff by strategic health authorities and local trusts.
The NHS Evidence accreditation scheme gives a quality mark to organisations that use the best processes to develop their guidance. So far, 11 organisations have been accredited and the scheme continues to raise the bar for standards of guidance production.
As the NHS tightens its belt, nurses are taking responsibility for ensuring that high quality care continues to be delivered. The QIPP collection on NHS Evidence gives you access to powerful examples of things you can do to improve quality of patient care while improving productivity.
NHS Evidence needs your help to continue building a comprehensive collection of best practice. The idea is to provoke thoughts, ideas and discussions about changes that can be made locally in the NHS. We are encouraging all staff to think about how their organisation has delivered successful improvements without having to reinvent the wheel. We know you have good ideas - which have been shown to work - and they can help the NHS nationally to meet its challenge. This is why we want to hear from you and your organisation. Make your best practice examples a beacon for others to follow. See http://tinyurl.com/NHSEvidence-AboutQIPP for more information.
Make NHS Evidence your first port of call. Ten million people used it last year and the number is growing every month - make sure you are one of them.
Gillian Leng is deputy chief executive at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and chief operating officer for NHS Evidence