Your news story 'NHS librarians denied Internet links' (page 7, 8 July) on John Kirriemuir's informal survey, OMNI: accessing the Internet, needs to be understood in a broader context.

The NHS regional librarians group's recent survey to inform development of the National Electronic Library for Health revealed a high and growing level of Internet connectivity in NHS libraries in all regions, with more than half the regions achieving connectivity for all their library and information services.

Other findings highlighted librarian development programmes and numerous innovative initiatives in training and support forend-users.

The OMNI survey is valuable in drawing attention to the huge task of completing the transition to a modernised NHS in which information systems and effective use of emerging technologies will be crucial.

These issues affect not only librarians but the whole NHS. They are not new, and planning at a strategic level has been developing as part of the modernisation plan.

Among key barriers to implementing evidence-based healthcare are lack of access to the Internet and inadequate training.

The Information for Health strategy is ensuring that these issues are addressed.

To take the strategy forward, new partnerships are being forged through health authorities, education purchasing consortia, health library networks - and healthcare information specialists from all disciplines, including libraries and information technology.

There are similar opportunities for partnership with schools, public libraries and higher education to achieve the best possible access to knowledge for all healthcare practitioners, managers, patients and the public.

The NHS is the largest employer in Europe, and regional health library networks are supporting partnership and developmental work across populations similar in size to that of a nation such as Switzerland.

Trusts and HAs are undoubtedly at different stages of development.

But the direction of travel is clearly set, and people are becoming aware of what is needed and are working effectively together to achieve the changes.

Valerie Ferguson


NHS regional librarians group

Postgraduate medical and NHS libraries adviser

John Rylands University Library

Manchester University