Learning from the pilot

Various processes were used to capture learning before, during and after implementation of the pilot, including:

  • Before Action Reviews with pilot participants, conducted by the Repository Coordinator
  • A Peer Assist conducted by a member of the HEE KLS Team not involved in the project, whereby a ‘visiting team’ comprising HEE staff and pilot participants, could learn from a ‘home team’ of individuals with significant repository experience, from the Kings Fund, University College London, and BL itself, as well as from within the NHS
  • After Action Reviews and interviews with individual pilot participants towards the end of the pilot, conducted by members of the HEE and NHS England teams

Key amongst HEE’s lessons learned is that procurement and implementation of shared repository for NHS warrants an approach which follows the GDS Service Standard, starting with NHS-focused user discovery research and including development of a full service specification and competitive tender process.

Although HEE has successfully worked in partnership with other DHSC Arm’s Length Bodies on management of contracts, and with non-DHSC organisations on other initiatives, this is an area where HEE would need to act as both purchasing body and contracting authority.

A further key reflection for HEE is that the willingness of NHS organisations to share documentation generated within their organisations requires more investigation. The pilot revealed that in practice, disincentives to share may outweigh stated need and willingness to share. Exploration of sensitivities in this area, and ways to manage these, would need to be covered in the user discovery research. 

Recommended next steps

The HEE Resource Discovery Team has now reviewed the learning from the pilot, and is considering what its role in this area, and next steps, might be. 

The team’s procurement activity this year and next must necessarily focus on regional library management systems, and national core content, so it seems prudent to identify ‘do once and share’ ways support to local and regional repository initiatives.

Activity currently being considered includes:

  • commissioning detailed user discovery research into stakeholder requirements for NHS repositories and make this available to inform business cases for regional and local investment
  • developing and sharing a template specification of requirements for a shared NHS repository, based on the findings of the user discovery research and outputs from this pilot, including the requirements for integration with library discovery systems
  • providing advice about controlled vocabularies suitable for use in indexing repository content
  • continuing to help facilitate sharing of good practice via the Repositories Community of Practice

We will engage with stakeholders, including the Resource Discovery Reference Group and the Repositories Community of Practice, to further consider these and other ideas.


Whilst it is clearly disappointing that this opportunistic pilot was ultimately unsuccessful, useful learning has been gathered during the process, by all parties involved, and this is now being used to inform next steps.

If you have suggestions, or questions, please emailthe Knowledge for Healthcare team on [email protected].

Page last reviewed: 30 September 2022