Post from a student on the UCL Health Module

Reflections from students on the UCL Health Module (2024) - part 3

In the early part of this year NHS England Knowledge and Library team members and colleagues from services across England once again had the privilege of supporting the delivery of a Health Librarianship module for Library and Information Studies students at University College London (UCL). Particular thanks go to William Henderson for his work in co-ordinating the speakers and developing the structure of the module.

Ten weekly sessions were delivered, on a variety of topics, with the aim of giving the students a broad look at the structure of NHS Knowledge and Library Services.

As part of their assignment, the students were required to write reflective pieces looking at a topic they had enjoyed from the course. Here is the first piece for you to read. I hope you enjoy their reflections as much as I did.

The role of NHS knowledge and library services in supporting staff wellbeing

In today’s healthcare sector, doctors face immense pressures and challenges, ranging from heavy workloads and intense work environments to the emotional toll of patient care and the need for continuous learning (6 Spiers et al., 2022). These factors not only impact doctors’ wellbeing but can also indirectly affect care quality, patient safety and patient satisfaction (7 West and Coia, 2019). Therefore, focusing on and improving the wellbeing of doctors is not just a matter of care for the staff themselves but is also crucial for enhancing the quality of healthcare and patient safety.

Specifically, doctors face several common stressors in their work environment, such as long working hours, workforce shortages, cost-of-living crisis, and the psychological burden of patient care. Extended working hours and poor staffing levels can lead to physical exhaustion and reduce the time available for personal life, contributing to work-life imbalance (5. Silver, 2022). The emotional stress always originates from prioritizing the needs of others over their own (1. Bhugra et al., 2019). Doctors tend to hide their anxiety and discomfort in front of patients to avoid being incompetent (2. Crowe and Brugha, 2018). In the same study, it is also noted that a considerable number of junior doctors are reluctant to seek help from senior doctors because they believe it is a sign of weakness and fear of being seen as incompetent. However, the psychological burden does not disappear just because they are hidden, it can arise from various causes, including make quick yet accurate decisions, managing the stress associated with patient care, dealing with severe illnesses, patient suffering, and the possibility of patient loss.

To enhance the wellbeing of doctors, the NHS Knowledge and Library Services provides various resources and strategic directions. Here are insights into how these services contribute to the wellbeing of NHS staff:

  1. Comprehensive Wellbeing Book Collection for NHS Staff

A selection of books on wellbeing is available via NHS Knowledge and Library Services. The topics mainly cover managing stress and burnout, developing resilience, mindfulness and emotional wellbeing, and leadership in healthcare (4. NHS Knowledge and Library Services, 2022). Staff can seek different assistance depending on what kind of challenging times they are experiencing.

  1. Knowledge for Healthcare 2021-2026

This is an instructional framework that enables “NHS staff, learners, patients, and the public have access to the right knowledge and evidence at the right time”. It assists in “high-quality decision-making, learning, research, and innovation in healthcare”. The framework establishes the strategic direction for the development of these services, with the goal of ensuring that all NHS staff and learners have equal access to reliable and accurate knowledge services (3. NHS Knowledge and Library Services, 2021). It provides staff with unified standards and guidelines which helps maintain fairness in workplace, improving staff’s sense of security and belonging.

  1. Access to High-quality Evidence

NHS Health Knowledge and Library Services contribute to staff wellbeing by offering them instant and thorough access to reliable evidence. Staff are better equipped to make professional healthcare decisions when they have access to a broad repository of medical literature and resources. Ultimately, the quality of patient care will improve as staff are becoming more confident about their clinical judgements and less anxiety about the decisions they make.

In conclusion, great importance should be attached to the wellbeing of healthcare staff, it is the key to ensure a sustainable healthcare environment. The NHS Knowledge and Library Services’ resources are crucial for promoting the mental health and professional growth of staff, thus enhancing patient care and safety.


Zixin Li

Page last reviewed: 12 April 2024