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Belfast Trust First in NI to Sign Nursing Times Campaign Pledge

2nd April 2021

Are You Ok? Nursing Times Campaign

Belfast Trust has become the first NHS provider in Northern Ireland to sign a pledge supporting the principals of a new Nursing Times campaign. The Are You Ok? Campaign aims to highlight the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health and wellbeing of nurses and other staff in Health and Social Care who have been responding to the crisis.

In signing up to support the campaign, the Trust pledge to:

  • Provide easily accessible formal mental health and wellbeing support to staff for as long as it is needed;
  • Foster a culture of mutual support, in which staff are alert to the possibility that colleagues may be experiencing problems as a result of their work during the pandemic, and ready to offer informal support such as listening and signposting to internal or external sources of formal support;
  • Ensure that staff who are experiencing problems know that they will receive a positive, supportive response if they disclose problems, and understand that being asked ‘Are you OK?’ is a gesture of support and care, not an accusation of weakness.

We have already taken steps to protect staff mental health and wellbeing including use of Staffcare which provides free, confidential counselling and support to staff. The Belfast Trust Occupational Health service increased the capacity of its Psychology service in 2020 and also established a Psychology Helpline to support staff with their mental health and wellbeing. Staff can also access resources online via our BWell platform.

In response to the impact of COVID-19 on health and social care staff in NI, the Department of Health has commissioned Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to pilot the development of a regional programme to supplement existing occupational healthcare services for staff. The pilot, which is called Thrive, will provide staff affected by the pandemic with access to confidential and specialist psychological therapy. The service has been tailored specifically for staff working in COVID areas but we hope to roll this service out more widely in recognition that all health and social care staff have been impacted by the pandemic and some may benefit from additional psychological support.

Staff are the heart of our organisation; you have ensured the NHS was not overwhelmed in the initial peak – often at great personal cost, and continue to provide excellent and compassionate care to patients and their families. It is our responsibility to care for you, and to ensure that you are more than OK.

Brenda Creaney Director of Nursing Director of Nursing, User Experience and Allied Health Professionals at Belfast Trust, Brenda Creaney said,

“We are delighted to support the Nursing Times Are You Ok? Campaign. It has been a very challenging year for staff working in Health and Social Care. Belfast Trust recognises it is very important that supports are in place to protect staff mental health and wellbeing, therefore we continue to offer a wide range of resources and information to staff to ensure they have access to support when they need it.

Belfast Trust are also looking forward to working with colleagues across Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland on the Thrive pilot to offer support regionally to staff impacted by the pandemic.”