Health and digital literacy partnership

The national NHS knowledge and library services team is working with CILIP: the library and information association to co-lead a partnership for health and digital literacy.

With Libraries Connected and Arts Council England, we have agreed a Compact to work together to support citizens to develop the skills that they will need to access, assess and use health information in an increasingly digital environment.  

We are joined in this activity by a wider range of stakeholders, including the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, the Patient Information Forum, the Reading Agency, and representatives of specific professional groups, such as pharmacists and prison librarians.

This work also connects as the health strand of the Media and Information Literacy Alliance.

We have agreed to work in partnership to develop and share skills and resources and to pilot approaches to increase health literacy.

We anticipate that this will be a 5-year partnership.

Intended outcomes

Our strategic aim is that citizens have the health literacy skills, the underpinning digital skills and resources to make shared decisions and manage their health and wellbeing.

We have agreed three intermediate outcomes that form the basis of our workstreams:
1. Improve health and digital literacy skills.
2. Enable people to find and use high-quality patient, health and wellbeing information.
3. Build community partnerships, test approaches and share good practice.

For each of the three work streams, we are bringing together colleagues from other organisations to help us to develop the interventions. We will, where opportunities arise, prioritise activity in areas with low health literacy and where people are excluded digitally.

Work stream 1 – Skills: Improve health and digital literacy skills

Chair: Ruth Carlyle

NHS England interventions include:

  • identifying and promoting tools to enable information providers and citizens to build their digital and digital health navigation skills, including an updated Health Literacy Toolkit
  • determining gaps and map provision including geodata, and commissioning or developing new training resources including elearning
  • training information providers to use tools and techniques to improve health and digital literacy skills in diverse settings 

Work stream 2 – Health information: Enable people to find and use high-quality patient, health and wellbeing information

Chair: Sarah Mears

Libraries Connected Interventions include:

  • equipping citizens with tools and confidence to access, assess and use health information resources, working through a network of health ambassadors in public libraries
  • identifying and agreeing a platform for hosting health and digital literacy resources for health and digital literacy tools and navigation to high-quality health information sources, with initial resources hosted by CILIP
  • enabling the public to navigate access to evidence-based health and wellbeing resources through partnership activity

Work stream 3 – Partnerships: Build community partnerships, test approaches and share good practice 

Chair: Nick Poole, CILIP

CILIP's interventions include:

  • piloting interventions to test approaches and share learning within different localities and settings (these may include testing of skills development activities or high-quality patient information tools)
  • developing the role of local champions for health and digital literacy awareness and skills
  • facilitating shared learning and share tools to drive sustainable local community partnerships

Pilot sites

We areb working with 14 pilot sites in two cohorts.  Click here to view the list of pilot sites in the first and second cohorts.


Page last reviewed: 25 July 2023