On 1 April 1991, the financial base of the NHS underwent its most dramatic change since its inception in 1948. All NHS services are now based on contracts and this has major implications for library services. This change was perceived by the South West Thames Regional Library Service as presenting a unique opportunity and the paper outlines the background to the thinking and the strategy adopted to meet the challenges. Sources of library funding and precise spending details were identified by means of a survey and contracts agreed covering all NHS staff in each of the 13 districts. The contracts are operating as 'shadow contracts' for 1991-92 allowing a valuable period of evaluation and monitoring before any money actually changes hands. The survey form for collecting library budgetary information and the service agreement are included as Appendices to the article.
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