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About Health and Social Care Northern Ireland


Health and Social Care is the publicly funded healthcare system in Northern Ireland. Although having been created separately to the National Health Service, it is nonetheless considered a part of the overall national health service in the United Kingdom.

In England, Scotland and Wales, the National Health Service (NHS) provides health care services while local councils provide social care services. In Northern Ireland these services are combined under what is known as Health and Social Care (HSC). Like the NHS, the service is free at the point of delivery.

The Department of Health has overall responsibility for health and social care services. The Department is one of nine Northern Ireland Executive Departments.

In terms of providing services, the Department of Health discharges this duty to the Public Health Agency and a number of other Health and Social Care (HSC) bodies including five trusts. Each has a specific functions on its behalf.

All these HSC bodies are accountable to the Department which in turn is accountable, through the Minister, to the Assembly for the manner in which this duty is performed.

Trusts are the main providers of health and social care services to the public. Each Trust manages its own staff and services and controls its own budget.