Lifeline crisis support service interim arrangements confirmed
Lifeline is Northern Ireland’s crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) commissions the Lifeline service and the current contract is due to end on 31st March 2018. The PHA offered a contract extension to the current provider, Contact (Northern Ireland), to continue to deliver this service from 1st April 2018. However, late last year Contact (Northern Ireland) decided not to accept the offer of extension of the current contract.
In order to secure the continuity of the Lifeline Crisis Response Service after expiry of the current contract, the PHA took immediate steps to secure an interim provider from 1st April 2018. We pursued a range of procurement approaches available to us which would have enabled the selection of a suitable service provider with experience in the field of mental health and helpline provision.
It has not been possible to appoint a non-statutory sector provider through this process. Instead, the PHA is able to confirm that all necessary arrangements are being made to transition the Lifeline service across to Health and Social Care (HSC) for an interim period, with effect from 1st April 2018. Belfast Health and Social Care Trust will take the lead on behalf of the HSC in delivering this service.
Under this arrangement frontline staff who currently deliver the Lifeline service will transfer to Belfast Trust, and this regional service will continue to operate according to the same model with the same level of service. In delivering the Lifeline service, the PHA and the wider HSC will work to ensure that when anyone across Northern Ireland contacts Lifeline, they will receive the necessary level of support they require.
The further development of the Lifeline service remains a key priority for the PHA in the fight against suicide and self-harm both now and in the future. Lifeline will continue to deliver a high-quality 24/7 service for people in distress or despair and will remain available on 0808 808 8000.