Staff need to know we have their backs – Minister

Date published: 16 April 2020

Staff on the Covid-19 frontline can be assured of timely support from the health and social care system, Minister Robin Swann has emphasised.


The Health Minister was commenting on the launch of a new Framework, setting out how the well-being of health and social care staff and volunteers will be a key priority throughout the current COVID 19 crisis.

The document which reflects World Health Organisation guidance has been drawn up with input from senior clinicians in clinical psychology alongside other partners including Trade Unions, occupational health services,  PHA, HSCB and the HSC Leadership Centre. The Framework is fully supported by Trade Unions.

Minister Swann said: “We need to make clear to everyone across the health and social care system that we have their backs. The Framework recognises the changing needs of our HSC staff throughout the crisis. The Department of Health is committed to meeting those needs both now and into the future.

“They are there for us at this most challenging time. We need to make sure that we are always there for them.

“Expressions of public support are vital, as are personal resilience and commitment. But we also must assure staff that it is okay not to feel okay and that their colleagues and leaders will be there to help them through.

“I also cannot stress enough the importance of our independent sector providers who are vital partners in the wider health and social care family. I am delighted that psychological support helplines provided by the Trusts will also be available to their staff.

“I very much welcome and commend this new Framework. It sets out a range of practical measures that will protect the psychological health and well-being of our people.”

The measures within the framework include a range of initiatives across organisations which will enhance psychological well-being of staff.  These include access to Psychological Support Helplines manned by psychologists, a broad range of online resources and drop-in services in critical facilities.

A Staff Wellbeing Working Group will oversee service delivery and review implementation of the framework across NI.

The Minister added: “The Framework captures the great initiatives that are already being taken by Trusts and other service providers and builds on them.

“It will guide leaders of services in responding positively to the demands being placed on their staff. It will also signpost them to the best resources and ideas.

“It is absolutely vital that we all look after each other’s mental and emotional well-being. We will fightback against Covid-19 together and get through this together.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Framework Supporting the Well-being Needs of our Health and Social Care Staff during COVID-19: A Framework for Leaders and Managers is based on evidence and best practice guidance and is informed by The British Psychological Society Guidance Paper.
  2. The Psychological Support Help Lines will be staffed by psychologists and psychological therapists who can provide appropriate support throughout the surge phase of the crisis.
  3. The Helplines will be made available by each Trust to all their staff, to all GP Practices in their area, to all Ambulance staff based in their area and to all independent sector care providers in their area.  In this way support is offered to all parts of the system throughout surge.
  4. The Framework document is supported by resources which are available on the PHA website.
  5. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office Out of hours please contact the Duty Press Office on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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