NHS Scotland e-library:- Free Access to Toll Access for members of the public

Originally posted on my old blog Friday, 4 April 2008

As some of my readers know, in some of my spare time, I am involved in Patient Advocacy work.

Since I am not part of any Institution, I don’t have an Athens login so have limited access to Toll Access scientific/medical literature but have broad access to Open Access literature.


One condition that I’m actively involved in in research/patient support terms is Motor Neurone Disease (MND) also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In Open Access (OA) terms, please refer to this entry 11th April 2007.

I recently came across this really useful/comprehensive (76 pages) round-up of recent MND research compiled by a Medical Librarian at the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

“These clinical journal articles are retrieved from a Medline literature search of published research within the last month. If you wish to receive this current awareness bulletin regularly by email contact the Information Officer. It is also available to download from the charity’s website on the library and publications page and also from the web portal, the NHS Scotland e-library http://www.elib.scot.nhs.uk
( If you work for the NHS in Scotland you can register for an Athens password and the full-text of many of the research articles will be available to you online. Contact your nearest NHS clinical library or the MND Library & Information Service to obtain full-text of any articles unavailable on the e-library).”

Out of curiosity, I contacted the Librarian in question by telephone. Yet again, what an incredibly helpful individual. Medical Librarians rock !!!

I now have access to a wealth of literature with an Athens login. (It takes 72 hours to kick in so I’ll update this post once “I’m in”.)

How did this happen ?

I was directed towards this page.

From the blurb:-

Registering with the e-Library gives you the following benefits:

For ALL registered users – facilities to:

* Customise the e-Library homepage e.g. have your own list of favourite resources
* Save searches you want to repeat
* Share resources and communicate with colleagues through the e-Library Knowledge Exchanges and Shared Spaces.

For registered “NHS Scotland staff, students and partners”:

These groups have access to the password-protected content licensed from book and journal publishers (over 5000 online journals, over 80 major databases, over 5000 electronic books, Good Practice collections of management tools and techniques.
Full details of subject coverage are available.

Who are “NHS Scotland staff, students and partners”?

* Staff – anyone who works directly for or is a contractor with NHS Scotland, including those providing training to NHS staff.
* Students – undergraduate or postgraduate students working or training with the NHS. (Many students may have registered for ATHENS accounts from their university or college; these will give access to a different selection of resources.)
* Partners – all individuals and organisations that provide services and support to the work of NHS Scotland, including local authority staff, Scottish Executive, voluntary health sector, health care staff working in the armed forces, prison service, nursing homes, hospices, schools, etc, emergency services staff, members of the Scottish Royal Colleges, patient / public representatives on NHS groups.

I appear to have qualified since I genuinely am involved in Patient Advocacy here in Scotland. I am advised that this service in UK terms, is currently only available in Scotland. ++UPDATE See the comments thread++

IMHO this means that anyone in Scotland who for example is providing care/help/ support to a relative/friend/patient etc. should, like any other member of the public, also qualify for an Athens login, cut through “Toll Access” red tape and gain access to publicly funded research etc. that they have already paid for.


But of course, better and much simpler still, in this day and age, is of course to make such material OA in the first place and rid ourselves of an unnecessary and unwanted “password only” Draconian System !



PA said…

Seems like it might be possible to volunteer at the local hospital one Saturday and walk out with an Athens login then?
Glad you got access to the literature you’re looking for, but this is a prime example of why OA would be a much better system.
4 April 2008 07:04

McDawg said…

Thanks PA !

This has shades of the following. One of the leading lights in the world of Patient Advocacy remains Sharon Terry MA – President and CEO, Genetic Alliance.

In one of her online talks, she recalls the story of how she started getting round TA 10 years ago by “borrowing” passwords to help her and her Husband access relevant literature in relation to their childrens condition. I certainly would not recommend doing anything of this nature.

OA as you say is indeed a much better, simpler and logical system in this day and age.

4 April 2008 07:50

Drew’s Journey Back said…

great stuff, graham
stamford, ct
4 April 2008 08:47

Health Perspectives said…

There’s a similar system for the NHS in England. It’s been running for the last 5 or 6 years, and is funded by the National Library for Health http://www.library.nhs.uk

6 April 2008 13:38

McDawg said…

Thanks a lot HP’s.

Looks great and I’ll have a proper look around tomorrow.

Thanks for dropping by and the alert =)

6 April 008 14:16

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