In February 2023, PCFT launched a new Research Strategy[i]. Part of the strategy is to develop associated Research Units. There are currently five, covering Older People, People with Learning Disabilities, Young People, People with Psychosis, and OPTIMED (Medicines Optimisation and Safety). The Knowledge Service assigned a particular Knowledge Specialist to three of the units (Older People, People with Learning Disabilities, Children & Adolescents). The named Knowledge Specialist was to act as a point of contact/access for Knowledge Services, who members could get to know by them attending meetings and contact directly.

As activity within the Research Units increases, we felt this would have a positive impact on the ability of staff to understand work already done, plan for future grant bids and disseminate research findings among other research related activity.


As this had been running for around six months, the Research & Innovation Manager, Simon Kaye, conducted a survey, using an MS Forms questionnaire to review the pilot and decide on the next steps.

Simon devised a short survey, which asked questions on the following:

  • Before the allocation of a named Knowledge Specialist were you aware of the Knowledge Service? 
  • Have you accessed the knowledge service since the introduction of named specialists for Research Units in June?
  • What was the purpose of your interaction with the knowledge service?
  • Was there any indirect impact (for example being more aware of what resources are available, but not needed or involved Knowledge Service yet) of having a named Knowledge Specialist identified for your Research Unit activities?
  • What would you change about the named knowledge specialist service?
  • How useful have you found the introduction of a named knowledge specialist for your research unit? (Scale from zero being not useful at all to 10 being Extremely Useful)
  • How satisfied are you with the level of service you have received? (Scale from zero being not satisfied at all to 10 being Extremely Satisfied).

We emailed the survey to the Research Unit distribution lists in the first week of October 2023.

Results of the Survey

Nine responses to the survey were received. 77% of respondents were aware of the Knowledge Service before the introduction of the named specialist. Over 50% of respondents had accessed the service prior to the introduction of the named specialist.

Reasons for accessing the service were varied. “To get help with setting up an Athens account.” “Literature search for specific clinical presentations” “Information about specialist beds across England” “Support for a grant application.” This highlights the variety of services and assistance the Knowledge Service has provided.

Overall usefulness of the service was rated neutrally. However, 50% of respondents were very positive giving the service a score of 10/10. Overall satisfaction with the service was high with over 50% of respondents scoring at 10/10

There were some suggestions about how the service might improve including attendance at ward rounds and maximising the scope and visibility of the service. We also asked about direct and indirect impact of the service, but it may be too early in the process for this to be fully appreciated.

Outside of the survey we know that Knowledge Specialists have also carried out training and demonstration of resources at Research Unit meetings, facilitated journal clubs & at individual Research Unit workshops/events, & set up alerts to identify new research.

Conclusion and next steps

Overall, responses confirm that this has been a positive development for the Knowledge Service and the Research Units involved. We will continue to work closely with those involved exploring suggestions for improvement and implementing them where practicable. We will be widening the service to take in the OPTIMED (Medicines Optimisation and Safety) Research Unit and a new Psychosis Research Unit when that is set up in early 2024. The Knowledge Service is committed to providing a responsive and pro-active service to its users and to this end we always seek to improve the service where this is possible. This was a useful exercise for us and helps to understand how we can improve the service and meet users’ requirements.


[i] Research and innovation: Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust