Update on the Lifeline service
Lifeline is Northern Ireland’s 24/7 crisis support service for people in distress or despair.
The current contract for the operation of Lifeline is due to end on 31 March 2018. The Public Health Agency (PHA), which commissions the service, recently offered a contract extension under existing terms to the current provider, Contact (Northern Ireland), to continue to deliver this essential service which supports people in distress and despair. However, the current provider has decided not to continue delivering the Lifeline service after March next year.
The PHA will now move to appoint an alternative interim service provider to ensure that Lifeline continues to be delivered in a safe and sustainable way. All necessary arrangements will be put in place to ensure a seamless transition to the new interim provider and service users will notice no change in how Lifeline is delivered. TUPE arrangements will be applied to facilitate the retention of frontline staff within the service.
Service transfers between providers occur occasionally and the PHA, as a significant commissioner of community-focused services, anticipates this as part of normal business.
It is important to emphasise that the current budget provision will continue to be available when the new interim provider commences delivery of Lifeline. Lifeline is a demand-led service and the cost of the service is fully covered by the available budget.
The PHA would like to thank the outgoing contractor, Contact, for delivering the service over recent years.
It is also worth noting that the forthcoming change of provider, under the current service model, will have no impact on the PHA’s plans to adapt and enhance the Lifeline service model for future. These plans have been agreed and endorsed by the Department of Health and work to finalise the specification for the future Lifeline service is ongoing.
Lifeline remains a key priority in the fight against suicide and self-harm. It is important to remember that during the period of transitioning to the new interim provider, Lifeline continues to be available 24/7 on 0808 808 8000 for anyone who is in distress or despair.