Please note that this page is here for historical information. If you wish to find out how to register your institution as a NHS HE OpenAthens organisation then please contact Cathryn Peppard -

Background: pilot access project 2008-2011

The NHS HE Core Content access pilot was set up in 2008 to allow medical and nursing students in England to access NHS Core Content from the start of their HE course and before commencing clinical placements. The main object of the trial (instigated by UHMLG and the SHALL Content and Collections Development Group, CCDG) was to facilitate information literacy sessions with students, using NHS e-resources from the earliest possible point in the curriculum. It was thought that following training sessions in their higher education (HE) environment, students would go on placement and then ultimately into their professional careers, already competent to access key NHS e-resources. Medical and nursing students on clinical placement have always been able to access NHS Core Content but the burden of training has traditionally rested with NHS librarians. Having looked at the statistics and feedback generated by the access pilot, the CCDG and the suppliers agreed to a revision of the eligibility criteria with respect to the categories of eligible HE students and the timing of their user registration. Chris Fowler from Southampton University and Erika Gavillet from Newcastle University represented the HEIs on the task and Finish Group.
OpenAthens access management system
Access to NHS Core Content is enabled through the Eduserv OpenAthens access management system. All Core Content users are required to have an OpenAthens user name and password, which is assigned through a centrally coordinated system with local facilitation. There will be learning points for HE librarians who are responsible for supporting students in their access and use of NHS Core Content.

Towards a structured registration system for HE students
The revision to the eligibility criteria means that a phased implementation can be initiated with the libraries in all eligible institutions during 2011 and beyond. A policy of phased implementation recognises the fact that some universities might be able to engage straight away in terms of registering students and others might choose to wait to a particular point in the academic year or particular point in a teaching curriculum before registering students. The user applicability is very wide indeed and covers all groups of student allied health professionals as well as midwives, nurses, medical students, podiatrists, radiographers, speech and language therapists. If bulk registration of students is not possible in certain institutions, the students can always self-register for access to NHS Core Content when they are on clinical placement.

Next steps to September 2011
NHS Evidence, UHMLG and the CCDG have agreed that the supporting framework to enable OpenAthens bulk-registration of students will be in place from September 2011. A Task and Finish Group comprising NHS OpenAthens Administrators, HE library representatives, an SHA library lead and an NHS Evidence Associate Director are working to create a practical structure that will be both supportive and developmental for the new HE OpenAthens administrators that will be required in each university library.

Each HE institution in England delivering NHS commissioned courses is asked to nominate a member of library staff to act as the main link for the registration of its students. The library nominees will learn to become OpenAthens administrators for the activity at their local level. A comprehensive peer support group at local and NHS regional levels will be established to support the new OpenAthens administrators in their new roles. These will comprise NHS and HE OpenAthens administrators who will support their training and development. The peer support will be supplemented by comprehensive training materials, a wiki and a blog. It is important to note that locally, each university library and the appropriate academic liaison librarians and academic staff in that institution will decide on its own policy and timing for registering eligible students for access to NHS core content.

Anticipated steps for setting up the first HE OpenAthens administrators
The support framework for enabling Athens registration will develop gradually and will depend on the peer network of NHS and HE librarians to cascade training and development for new OpenAthens administrators. The first steps are outlined here:

  • University libraries supporting NHS commissioned courses in England will contact Erika Gavillet and will nominate a contact to be their OpenAthens administrator.
  • Erika Gavillet or Betsy Anagnostelis will contact the nominated contact and discuss any initial queries or problems
  • Erika Gavillet will pass contact details to the national NHS OpenAthens administrator,Zoe Fricker ( Zoe will contact each nominee and set them up as HE OpenAthens Administrators
  • Site contacts will be able to access FAQs, training materials and guidance on the HEI/NHS OpenAthens wiki.
  • As required, the T&F Group will help the new HE OpenAthens administrator in each University library to make contact with the local and regional NHS OpenAthens administrators in their local area to enable local peer support and training opportunities.
  • Where possible, the T&F group will look for volunteer HE library OpenAthens administrators in each NHS regional area, to fulfil a role of regional Athens administrator for their ‘patch’. This person will liaise with the national OpenAthens administrator and other NHS and HE regional OpenAthens administrators.
  • New administrators will be mentored to gain experience with test bulk uploading and data management.

Report on progress of project.
Presented to CCDG by Chris Fowler in July 2012. The report is available here. .

December 2012
Due to other commitments, Chris Fowler will no longer be part of the Task and Finish group from December 2012. The rest of the group would like to thank her for the enormous amount of work and commitment she has given to the project to date.