Health service structure

Belfast Trust is one of many organisations that make up the health service. This page explains who the various organisations are, their role, and how they fit together.

Health and Social Care

In Northern Ireland, the National Health Service (NHS) is referred to as Health and Social Care (HSC).

Health and Social Care is free at the point of delivery. In Northern Ireland, Health and Social Care also provides social care services such as:

  • home care services
  • family and children’s services
  • day care services
  • social work services

The Department of Health has overall authority for Health and Social Care.

Services are commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board and provided by five Health and Social Care Trusts.

Ambulance Services in Northern Ireland are provided by the NI Ambulance Trust.

Department of Health

The Department of Health (DoH) is one of nine Northern Ireland Executive departments set up by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan.

The Department of Health has three main business responsibilities:

  • Health and Social Care, 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 wellbeing of the population
  • public safety, which covers policy and legislation for fire and rescue services
Health and Social Care Board

The Health and Social Care Board sits between the Department of Health and Trusts. The Health and Social Care Board is responsible for commissioning services, managing resources and performance improvement.

The Health and Social Care Board also manages contracts for family health services provided by GPs, dentists, opticians and community pharmacists. These are all services not provided by Health and Social Care Trusts.

Within the Health and Social Care Board, there are Local Commissioning Groups that focus on the planning and resourcing of services. The Local Commissioning Groups cover the same geographical area as the five Health and Social Care Trusts.

Read more about the Belfast Local Commissioning Group

Health and Social Care Trusts

Belfast Trust is one of five Health and Social Care Trusts that provide services across Northern Ireland.

Although the Health and Social Care Board commissions services, the Trusts actually provide them ‘on the ground’.

Each Trust manages its own staff and services and controls its own budget.

You can download the Management statement between the Department of Health and Belfast Trust.

The other four Trusts in Northern Ireland are: