About The National Elf Service

The National Elf Service is owned and managed by Minervation Ltd; an Oxford University spin-out company founded by information scientists Douglas Badenoch and André Tomlin, who have been building evidence-based healthcare websites since the early 1990s.

Douglas and André share a vision for making evidence-based research more accessible and usable for busy health and social care professionals. You can find out more about the background to their work by reading this blog: Coping with the avalanche of evidence-based mental health research.

Why start a National Elf Service?

Having worked in Oxford for over 20 years, André and Douglas are lucky enough to have built a network of friends and colleagues who are sympathetic to their view of the health information world, i.e.

  • The currency of clinicians’ knowledge degrades over time.
  • Research papers are inaccessible to the majority of professionals, who don’t have the skills to appraise them or act upon their findings.
  • It’s unfeasible for professionals to keep up to date with important and reliable health and social care research by reading all of the full-text papers.
  • There is clear and compelling evidence that what professionals need is accessible, usable and reliable summaries of new research, policy and guidance.
  • Blogs and social media are essential tools that can help all professionals find, use and discuss relevant evidence.

Who is involved?

Hundreds of people have contributed to our elf blogs over the last few years. The National Elf Service is a real team effort and we are always open to new people joining the woodland clan. If you like what we’re doing and think you could add value, please drop us a line and say hello.

Chief Bloggers

Each of our topic areas has an Elf Professor leading the way. We are eternally grateful to our Chief Bloggers for their tenacity and wisdom:

  • Sarah Carr, The Social Care Elf
  • Caroline De Brun, The Commissioning Elf
  • Madeleine Grealy, The Stroke Elf
  • Jennifer Hanratty, The Child Elf
  • Tracey Howe, The Musculoskeletal Elf
  • John Northfield, The Learning Disabilities Elf
  • Derek Richards, The Dental Elf


The Woodland is getting busier every year.

Contact us if you would like to work together on a new elf that tackles a health problem or population of interest to you.

The people behind the scenes

Of course, no successful website can survive for long without a crack team of designers, developers and specialists. We are lucky to have a dedicated and extremely talented group of people working with us, including:

The bloggers

And last but not least, the people without whom this whole endeavour would quickly turn to dust; the bloggers themselves. We have lists of everyone who has written blogs for the various elves elsewhere on this site, so we won’t list them again here.

What is especially gratifying about our group of elvish contributors is that they are such a diverse mix of people. We have professors and journal editors writing blogs, but we also have service users and carers, researchers, doctors, nurses, students, librarians and a broad spectrum of health and social care professionals. Over half of our contributors are based in the UK, but we also have bloggers posting from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the Middle East and from all over Europe.

What they all have in common is simple: a love of reading, appraising and communicating the findings of high quality research.