NI Towards Zero Suicide Patient Safety Collaborative

The Northern Ireland Towards Zero Suicide Patient Safety Collaborative includes the five statutory Health and Social Care Trusts within Northern Ireland, including healthcare in Prisons, working jointly to reduce patient suicide across adult mental health services in Northern Ireland. A programme of evidence-based quality improvement projects are being introduced and assessed for efficacy and sustainability within services to maximise patient outcomes, with particular focus on their ability to reduce self-harm and suicide. The planning, design and delivery of this work is being co-ordinated across the region by a dedicated team of Service Improvement Staff working alongside clinicians from a range of professions, people who have lived experience of suicide or caring for someone with suicide ideation, senior leadership in statutory mental health provision, commissioners and third sector partners.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

As a programme focused on suicide prevention, we gather evidence of best practice locally, nationally, and internationally as relevant to health and social care services.  We analyse evidence based practice and models and where appropriate, apply these – currently we are testing safety planning models for broad application across all adult mental health services, and developing a Suicide Prevention Care Pathway for use in ED and Statutory Mental Health Services.

Each of our member Health & Social Care Trusts (of which there are 5) offer suicide bereavement support, suicide prevention and gatekeeper training programmes, and undertake risk assessment, care management and crisis care including inpatient provision.

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What are your current priorities?

Current priorities include involving people with lived experience in designing, planning and delivering suicide prevention and care programmes; developing a skilled and confident workforce across a range of disciplines; developing a standardised safety planning tool for the region, improving ward safety in psychiatric inpatient provision; and the development of an integrated suicide prevention care pathway for patients presenting in crisis or with suicide ideation. It is our aim to create consistency in care and practice across our health care and prison partners.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

The current pandemic creates challenges for introducing new models and practice using Quality Improvement Methodology as services and staff are under significant pressure that eliminates a lot of opportunity for training in new practice and analysis of trends.

A lot of research is helpful in identifying what mental health services should not do, but there is less definite evidence as to what we should specifically do that will directly reduce suicide.

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