Health Minister Robin Swann is moving forward with the establishment of a Regional Trauma Network to better support victims and survivors.

A Regional Trauma Network (RTN) was a commitment in the Stormont House Agreement in recognition of the need for a comprehensive trauma service for victims and survivors.

The RTN will involve statutory, community and voluntary sector organisations working collaboratively to provide specialist trauma care to individuals.  This care will cover a range of emotional and mental health needs, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Speaking about the implementation of this critical service, Minister Swann said: “Since taking up office I have been committed to developing a scheme that would focus on the needs of victims and survivors and provide the services that they undoubtedly deserve and require.

“There has been much debate over a number of years as to the detail of such services however I am clear in my vision and direction and am delighted to announce today that a regional network will be available for the citizens of Northern Ireland.”

Implementation of the RTN will take a phased approach. Phase 1 will focus on the needs of victims and survivors and will be subject to evaluation to consider any unmet needs or ongoing needs.  Lessons learned will help inform the roll out of Phase 2.  

Margaret Bateson, CEO of the Victims and Survivors service (VSS) said: “The Victims and Survivors Service welcomes the Health Minister’s announcement that the long-awaited Regional Trauma Network will now be established.  We are committed to working with the Department of Health, our community partners and all other stakeholders on this new initiative to ensure that the voices of victims and survivors are at the heart of any co-design process.

“The Regional Trauma Network presents a real opportunity to establish dedicated and specialist pathways and psychological care for victims and survivors across Northern Ireland. We look forward to adopting a partnership approach across community, voluntary and statutory services to ensure services provided focus on improving the health and wellbeing of victims and survivors.”

Work has been ongoing to lay the foundations for this new service.  This includes research into best practice on appropriate therapies; conducting training; and establishing key clinical and administrative posts within the Health and Social Care Board and Trusts.

Andrew Sloan, CEO of the Commission for Victims and Survivors welcomed the news.  He said: “The launch of the Regional Trauma Network is a welcome culmination of all the work undertaken by the partners and communities who have contributed to this.  I look forward to seeing this service established for all who need it.”

Professor Ciaran Mulholland, Clinical Director of the Regional Trauma Network and Psychiatric Advisor to the Health and Social Care Board said: “The Regional Trauma Network is genuinely innovative, bringing together colleagues in the health service and the community and voluntary sector to provide a seamless service for victims and survivors. Together we will offer a range of high-quality supports and interventions which address the long-term consequences of traumatic experiences. Our aim is to be world-leading in the development of mental health care, just as Northern Ireland has previously led the way in advancing both cardiac and surgical care. Today’s announcement is an important milestone which will assist in achieving that end.”

Minister Swann concluded by adding: “In the coming months, my officials will work with the HSCB, HSC Trusts and the Victims and Survivors Service and its community partners to co-design the new service, including referral pathways and overarching governance arrangements, with a view to commencing Phase 1 in autumn 2022.

“When fully implemented the Regional Trauma Network will have a significant positive impact on the mental health of the whole population of Northern Ireland.  It will provide high quality and responsive services for those that have been affected by psychological trauma.  I wish everyone involved in establishing and delivering this service the very best in taking it forward.”

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