I am pleased to announce the launch of a Welsh Government funded, bespoke Samaritans helpline which, in Wales, is dedicated both to NHS workers and the social care workforce. The service will launch today; 03 August 2020.
I fully recognise and appreciate the challenges and immense pressure facing our dedicated health and social care workforce at all times but particularly during this unprecedented time of personal and professional strain. It is even more important than ever that any individual working in the NHS and social care in Wales has access to trusted emotional wellbeing support outside the workplace as well as being able to talk to each other and to their manager.
The service will be available daily between 7am and 11pm offering confidential support tailored for individuals working in health care settings, provided by trained volunteers. I recognise the importance of staff having the choice to communicate in English or Welsh and so a Welsh language service will also be available between 7pm-11pm daily from the outset, and will be scaled-up over time to replicate the opening times of the English language line as more bi-lingual volunteers are recruited and trained.
Individuals will be dealing with a combination of personal and professional factors which are acutely different to their old ‘normal’ both during and after the current emergency situation, so we are working with NHS employers, our social care partners and with the trade unions to further develop the wellbeing offer for our workforce.
Over time, learning gathered from the uptake of this service will help us to make longer term plans for the health and wellbeing support offer for our health and social care workforce, in line with the ambitions set out in A Healthier Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.