HSC Structure

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is one of 12 Northern Ireland Departments created in 1999 as part of the Northern Ireland Executive by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.

Mission Statement

It is the Department’s mission to improve the health and social well-being of the people of Northern Ireland. It endeavours to do so by:
  • leading a major programme of cross-government action to improve the health and well-being of the population and reduce health inequalities. This includes interventions involving health promotion and education to encourage people to adopt activities, behaviours and attitudes which lead to better health and well-being. The aim is a population which is much more engaged in ensuring its own health and well-being; and
  • ensuring the provision of appropriate health and social care services, both in clinical settings such as hospitals and GPs’ surgeries, and in the community through nursing, social work and other professional services


The Department has three main business responsibilities:
  • Health and Social Care (HSC), which includes policy and legislation for hospitals, family practitioner services and community health and personal social services;
  • Public Health, which covers policy, legislation and administrative action to promote and protect the health and well-being of the population; and
  • Public Safety, which covers policy and legislation for fire and rescue services.

Health and Social Care

Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland are provided as an integrated service.  There are a number of organisations who work together to plan, deliver and monitor Health and Social Care across Northern Ireland.

Health and Social Care Board (HSCB)

The Health and Social Care Board is responsible for commissioning services, resource management and performance management and service improvement.  It works to identify and meet the needs of the Northern Ireland population through its five Local Commissioning Groups which cover the same geographical areas as the HSC Trusts.

Health and Social Care Trusts

There are a total of 6 Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts in Northern Ireland.
5 HSC Trusts provide integrated health and social care services across Northern Ireland: Belfast HSC Trust, South Eastern HSC Trust, Western HSC Trust, Southern HSC Trust and Northern HSC Trust. HSC Trusts manage and administer hospitals, health centres, residential homes, day centres and other health and social care facilities and they provide a wide range of health and social care services to the community.
HSC Trust Areas
The sixth Trust is the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, which operates a single Northern Ireland wide service to people in need and aims to improve the health and well-being of the community through the delivery of high quality ambulance services.

Public Health Agency (PHA)

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has the key functions of improving health and wellbeing and health protection.  It also provides professional input to the commissioning process.  The PHA is jointly responsible (with the HSCB) for the development of a fully integrated commissioning plan for health and social care in Northern Ireland.
The PHA works in partnership with local government, key organisations and other sectors to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities.

Patient and Client Council (PCC)

The Patient and Client Council (PCC) is a regional body with local offices covering the geographical areas of the five integrated Health and Care Trusts.
The overarching objective of the PCC is to provide a powerful, independent voice for patients, clients, carers, and communities on health and social care issues.

The Business Services Organisation

The Business Services Organisation (BSO) is responsible for the provision of a range of business support and specialist professional services to the whole of the Health and Social Care sector including, HR, finance, legal services, procurement, ICT and other services.  This will be taken forward in a phased approach.

Other organisations

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) is the independent health and social care regulatory body for Northern Ireland.In its work, RQIA encourages continuous improvement in the quality of these services through a programme of inspections and reviews.

NI Guardian Ad Litem Agency (NIGALA)

The functions of the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency (NIGALA) are:
  • to safeguard and promote the interests of children by providing independent social work investigation and advice in specified proceedings under the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and in Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987; and
  • to provide effective representation of children’s views and interests.
  • www.nigala.hscni.net

NI Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS)

The NI Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS) exists to supply the needs of all hospitals and clinical units in the province with safe and effective blood and blood products and other related services. The discharge of this function includes a commitment to the care and welfare of voluntary donors.

NI Social Care Council (NISCC)

Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) is the regulatory body for the social care workforce in Northern Ireland. Its aim is to increase the protection of those using social care services, their carers and the public.

NI Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery (NIPEC)

NIPEC aims to improve the quality of health and social care by supporting the practice, education and professional development of nurses and midwives.

NI Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA)

The Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA) is responsible for funding, managing and supporting postgraduate medical and dental education within the Northern Ireland Deanery. It provides a wide range of functions in the organisation, development and quality assurance of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education and in the delivery and quality assurance of Continuing Professional Development for general, medical and dental practitioners.