In June 2021, the Leeds Community Healthcare (LCH) Library, in conjunction with the Leeds Primary Care Workforce and Training Hub, submitted a joint expression of interest to Health Education England (HEE) to become a pilot site to have funding for a Knowledge Specialist in Primary Care.

The bid was successful, and Ingrid Francis came into the post (funded for two years) in November 2021.

Whilst other pilot sites across the country have system (ICS) wide coverage, our pilot is place based – we have a Training Hub for Leeds, and the Knowledge Specialist role is for Leeds.

Leeds as a setting

There are 94 practices in Leeds (or which 34 are student nurse practices), and these are covered by 19 Primary Care Networks.  The Leeds GP Confederation provides support for all practices in Leeds and is physically based at the LCH Trust HQ. Several senior roles in the Confederation (Director for Nursing & Allied Health Professionals, Medical Director and Workforce Director) are joint posts with LCH, and there are posts in the LCH Education Team with responsibilities for primary care.

Primary care staff in Leeds have had access to library services via a longstanding Service Level agreement with the LCH library service, and the addition of the Knowledge Specialist role to the library team gives a fantastic opportunity to build on the existing service, and really embed services.

Hitting the ground running

The first month in post was about integrating into the existing Library team at LCH, meeting various people that will be regular collaborators and getting to grips with LCH systems. This was all with the backdrop of the Library and Knowledge Hub Launch which the Leeds patch did early, in December 2021.

Ingrid has joined the rest of the LCH Team in delivering easy access to journal articles training via MS Teams. When LCH piloted it back in March 2021, uptake was so impressive Helen wrote about it for a previous issue of Northern Lights. Over the past couple of months we have been trialling teatime and evening sessions to see if they are better suited to Primary Care. One lesson learnt right away was to send out reminders for evening training during working hours, to avoid people forgetting they have booked and logging off for the evening.

Our Leeds-wide ‘resource of the month’ was BMJ Best Practice for both January and February – and we did open up training to other Trusts in the patch, going for another short bitesize style training session.

Big discoveries

Primary care is a whole new world! The way things work are so different to the experience of working in a hospital setting. The gateway to education in Primary Care seems to be through local Training Hubs. There are also a myriad of different people involved in primary care, including GP confederation colleagues and CCG staff. We are still understanding how to access everyone but we have got lots of contacts already, and pre-populated OpenAthens accounts (around 390 registered already), and existing current awareness service already received by many of these users.

So far we have found that pharmacists have been a key user group of the library, they’ve been keen on e-resources so we have purchased some ebooks for them – and are hoping that NHS England or HEE will pay for Medicines Complete from April!

One big success so far has been Ingrid’s inclusion in Leeds TARGET (TARGET stands for ‘Time for Audit, Research, Governance, Education & Training’ and is protected time for practice staff). There are regular meetings with a packed agenda, and getting a spot on that agenda is like gold dust. TARGET is currently delivered online through a series of videos. Thankfully our persistence and enthusiasm paid off, and within 24 hours of the page and video going live, we had contact from a GP, and have since had several enquiries from across Leeds for training and literature search support. Ingrid created a digital ‘business card’ which summarises the Primary Care Library and Information Specialist offer for Leeds.

It became evident after about a month into the role that creating a professional Twitter account for the role would be a powerful way to connect with our users. GPs are very active on Twitter, often using it to discuss their practice and connect with their peers. So far it has been a useful tool for engagement with various library users as well as partners and collaborators, leading to some meetings set up following interactions there.

Future plans

At the moment Ingrid is working up a webpage of resources specific to pharmacists, and proactively reaching out to colleagues within that sector of the workforce to see how we can best support their educational and training needs. There has been a big recruitment boom in the amount of community pharmacist posts in Leeds, so there are a significant amount of new starters who we hope will appreciate the support.

As LCH is part of the pan-Leeds training programme, collectively the Leeds team is putting together the training offer for 2022 particularly around how we will be teaching searching skills with the decommissioning of HDAS.

Getting impact

Given that this is a pilot, impact runs through everything we achieve over the next 2 years. Along with regular follow ups surveys to training and literature searching to get direct feedback from library users, Ingrid is also undertaking a mapping project to measure usage across practices geographically across the city and target a multi-layered outreach to improve resource uptake equitably.


For Primary Care in particular, starting the role mid-November 2021 could not have been worse timing to start in the role. The workforce has been incredibly stretched over winter in the vaccination programme, which reduces capacity to engage in CPD. One thing has been clear from the outset and that is the importance of remote working and flexible hours in the role to suit the needs and schedules of library users. It has been very interesting to see how many primary care and CCG colleagues are preferring this model – they like the fluidity of the role and have become very accustomed to working productively on Teams after the past 2 years. The Primary Care workforce is so spread out across the community that a physical library space is low down on the priority list, while we do have a lovely space they can use if they require one. What we are finding the workforce really value is a timely response to requests and to be available when required.

Having said that, we are looking forward to the opportunity to engage face to face, and have been invited to a face to face practice nurse event in May 2022 which will be the debut of our lovely Knowledge and Library Hub pull up banner! In the meantime, we are finding usage is increasing already through the provision and outreach that can be delivered remotely.

Digital Business Card


Ingrid Francis

Library and Knowledge Specialist – Primary Care

Helen Swales

Library Services Manager

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust