Health Service Structure

The Belfast Trust is one of many organisations that make up the Health Service structure. This page explains who the various organisations are, their role, and how they fit together to provide public health and social care services to people in Northern Ireland.

Health and Social Care (HSC)

In Northern Ireland the National Health Service (NHS) is referred to as HSC or Health and Social Care. Just like the NHS is it free at the point of delivery but  in Northern Ireland it also provides social care services like home care services, family and children's services, day care services and social work services.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public safety has over all authority for health and social care services.
Services are commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board and provided by five health and Social Care Trusts - Belfast, the largest of the five, South Eastern, Southern, Northern and Western.

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

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

With overall authority, and allocation of government funding the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland (DHSSPS) is one of 11 Northern Ireland Government Departments created in 1999 as part of the Northern Ireland Executive. 

Health and Social Care is one of the three main business responsibilities of the Department which are:

  • 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.

Read more about the DHSSPS

Health and Social Care Board (HSCB)

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

The Board is also directly responsible for managing 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.

Inside the Board there are Local Commissioning Groups (LCGs) focusing on the planning and resourcing of services.  The LCGs cover the same geographical area as the five Health and Social Care Trusts.
Read more about the Belfast Local Commissioning Group 


HSC Trusts

View a map of the 4 Trusts in Northern IrelandBelfast Trust is one of 5 Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts which provide health and social services across Northern Ireland. While the Board commissions services, it’s the Trusts that actually provide them ‘on the ground’.  Each Trust manages their own staff and services and controls its own budget.

The other 4 Trusts in Northern Ireland are:
• Northern Trust
• South Eastern Trust
• Southern Trust
• Western Trust