Fourth and final Progress Update on Still Waiting Action Plan (SWAP) published

Date published: 09 February 2023

The Department of Health has published its final progress update on its plan to improve mental health services for young people.

The Still Waiting Action Plan (SWAP) was published in October 2019 setting out actions to enhance aspects of mental health services for children and young people.

It was in response to a 2018 report by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) -  Still Waiting – A Rights Based Review of Mental Health Services and Support for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland – which made 50 recommendations aimed at improving services.

An Inter-Departmental Group (IDG), set up to consider the NICCY report, developed an action plan to take forward agreed recommendations. It also committed to annual progress updates.

Peter May, Department of Health Permanent Secretary, said: “The backdrop to the action plan has been challenging. It has included a global pandemic, funding pressures and workforce challenges, and yet notable work has been made across many of the actions.

“As a result of this work, significant progress has been achieved during 2022 on implementing the SWAP, with more than half of the 44 actions now completed and the majority of the remaining actions nearing completion.”

Key achievements in the past year include:

•             the full implementation of the Acute CAMHS (Children and Adult Mental Health Services) Managed Care Network (MCN), which ensures equitable, needs-driven access to consistent acute support across the region;

•             ongoing implementation of the Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing in Education Framework. Work has also continued on establishing Emotional Wellbeing Teams in Schools;

•             preparatory work to enable the publication of CAMHS data to enhance transparency around waiting times;

•             additional funding has been secured to assist with increasing capacity within CAMHS and to implement other new and innovative initiatives;

•             development of a Performance Framework to better inform an analysis of the outcomes being achieved through implementation of the SWAP.

The formal monitoring arrangements between NICCY and the IDG of the Still Waiting Action Plan will come to an end at the end of February 2023, when the term of office for the current Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People ends.

It is envisaged that The Mental Health Strategy will be the main vehicle for progressing the remaining outstanding SWAP actions, with some also being progressed via alternative programmes and strategies, such as the Children and Young Person’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing in Education Framework, and the Acute CAMHS Managed Care Network.

The IDG has agreed to continue to meet to monitor implementation of the remaining outstanding actions.

The Progress Update can be found on the Department of Health website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The IDG comprises cross-departmental representatives from Health, Education, Communities, and Justice, as well as colleagues from the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG), Education Authority and the Community and Voluntary Sector. It meets on a quarterly basis.
  2. Four annual Progress Update Reports have been published on the Department’s website.
  3. NICCY has also been monitoring the implementation of the SWAP recommendations and publishes annual reports assessing progress being achieved.
  4. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by e-mail:
  5. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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