Landmark for social work in HSC Trusts is welcomed

Date published: 30 June 2023

The use of agency social workers is ceasing in all Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Trusts from today.

Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background
Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background

This initiative, a collaboration between the Department of Health and the Trusts, recognises that effective social work services are built upon consistent, purposeful and trusting relationships between social workers and people they work with.

Ending the use of agency social workers will help to create a more stable and sustainable social work workforce and complements other measures taken by Trusts to improve the recruitment and retention of social workers.

The majority of social workers who had been working in an agency capacity have chosen to apply for HSC posts and most have been successfully appointed to a position in a Trust.

The HSC system regularly recruits for social workers and all vacancies are advertised on the recruitment website at

Chief Social Worker Aine Morrison said: “Ceasing the use of agency social workers in HSC Trusts is a welcome landmark.

“High quality social work services require stable and consistent social work teams, in which social workers feel valued. I think it is important that all social workers in HSC enjoy the same benefits and entitlements, and I hope that this initiative will have a lasting effect in stabilising the social work workforce.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The move to end agency social worker use was announced by then Health Minister Robin Swann, before he left office in October 2022.
  2. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email
  3. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.
  4. 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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