I’ve not mentioned NHS Evidence much and it’s a coincidence that I mention them twice in 6 weeks. I last blogged about them then (click here) to highlight that their searches are massively more expensive than TRIP’s.

My interest in NHS Evidence goes back longer than 6 weeks! I have contacts (and had contracts) with the predecessor to NHS Evidence (National Library for Health) and was keen to see how NHS Evidence would change things. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by their lack of ambition and innovation. Although, I’m still hoping to be proved wrong and they’ll do something special – clinicians (and patients) deserve it (especially with their budget of nearly £25 million).

But, the reason for this post, relates to some advertising NHS Evidence produced earlier this year. I saw it in the middle of March in the Health Service Journal. In that advert they claimed two things which I felt were inappropriate:

  • The most dependable clinical and non-clinical information online
  • answer all your clinical and non-clinical questions

It makes me shudder that this got past any internal processes. As a gateway for evidence surely they should be able to substantiate any claims they make. Both claims, to me, were absurd. I could go on, at length, as to why the claims are so foolish and if people are unclear then please contact me separately (jon.brassey@tripdatabase.com) and I’ll explain. 

After seeing these adverts I felt quite strongly that NHS Evidence shouldn’t make such statements and therefore complained to the Advertising Standards Authority. I recently received a letter telling me that NHS Evidence has confirmed that the advert has been withdrawn and that they will not repeat the claims.

It’s a small victory.

But here’s a challenge to NHS Evidence – fund some comparative research and compare yourself to other products. Not just TRIP, but DynaMed, NHS Scotland’s rather nice Knowledge Network and others. Help everyone learn from the strengths and weaknesses of others. If it helps we’ll part-fund it (we’ll give 0.5% of our budget if you match that with 0.5% of your budget).

As it happens in another freedom of information request NHS Evidence (where I asked about any comparisons they make with other search engines) they reported:

“we don’t compare our performance against other services”

This last quote is quite simply scandalous.