NHS Evidence was created to replace the NHS’s National Library for Health.  I was disappointed when it was released as it appeared little more than a clone of TRIP.  I was hoping for something more innovative to help support clinicians better and also to push the search agenda along – there is nothing like robust competition to stimulate innovation.

I have undertaken a number of Freedom of Information requests and have found out some interesting facts (click here to see the requests and responses).

What I found is as follows:

  • The budget for NHS Evidence in 2010/11 is £24,438,000
  • The number of searches this year is 15,811,716 (based on the average monthly figures for February to April 2010 multiplied by 12)
  • This means a cost per search of 154p

By comparison, this is how TRIP stacks up:

  • The budget for 2010/11 (for our search engine) – £45,000
  • The number of searches this year is 8,058,648 (worked out using the same figures and method as above.
  • This means a cost per search of 0.56p

Therefore, each search on NHS Evidence is 276 times more expensive than TRIP!

Why I raise this is not to rubbish NHS Evidence, although the figures are unflattering.  It’s more a feeling that it highlights the limitations of search.  Is this the law of diminishing returns?  Is search really the answer to clinical uncertainty?  I’m increasingly convinced that search is not the solution, irrespective of how much money you throw at the problem.

I’d love to have any comment on the above, are my conclusions sound?  Do the figures add up?