Northern Ireland Mental Health Services Workforce Review 2022 – 2032

Date published: 28 July 2023

The Mental Health Strategy 2021 - 2031 (MHS) recognises the staffing challenges in mental health services, noting what appears to be an ever-increasing demand, more complexity in presentation, and recruitment and retention challenges.  Action 32 of the Strategy therefore committed to a comprehensive workforce review considering the existing workforce and new models of working with a view to informing decision making around where the focus on training, recruitment and retention needs to be, and help create a workforce for the future that will meet the needs of the population and which is fit for the future.  It was identified as a key enabling action, setting the foundation for the wider implementation of the MHS.

The mental health workforce review was undertaken by an externally led team from Ernst & Young (EY), secured via an open procurement competition in March 2022.  A Steering Group was established to oversee the review and was co-chaired by the Department of Health Directors of Workforce Policy and Mental Health. Representation on the Steering Group reflected a range of knowledge, skills and experience within the Health and Social Care service.

The approach to the review included data and information collation through a series of interviews and included the formation of two working groups for adult mental health services and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).  The future workforce model was informed by benchmark information, best practice guidelines, service and discipline reviews and insight from Trusts and Service Leads on emerging areas of new practices.  This includes professions that are well established in other jurisdictions but are limited or absent from Northern Ireland Mental Health Services currently.

The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Peter May, has noted and approved publication of the report, alongside a Position Statement which highlights the context for the report and recommendations contained therein in terms of funding and deliverability, and which sets out proposed next steps. 

Back to top