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Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland (or HSC) is the designation of the publicly funded service responsible for the administration of the public health and other social care services in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Executive through its Health Department is responsible for the funding of the service. It is free of charge to all citizens of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. For services such as A&E, patients simply walk in, state their name and date of birth, are given treatment and then leave. Patients are unaware of costs incurred by them using the service. It is often called the NHS, as in Scotland, England and Wales, but differs in that it provides not only health care but social care too. In Britain, the three NHS services only provide health care. Social services are provided by local councils. The Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Service was created by the Northern Ireland Office after the Beveridge Report.



The Department is organised under a Permanent Secretary into several groups and one agency. These are the Planning and Resources Group, Strategic Planning and Modernisation Group and Primary, Secondary and Community Care Group and the 5 Professional Groups. The Department’s Executive Agency is the Health and Social Services Estates Agency (known as Health Estates). [1]

The five professional groups are

  • Medical and Allied Services[2]
  • Social Services Inspectorate[3]
  • Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Group[4]
  • Dental Services[5]
  • Pharmaceutical Advice and Services[6]

Trusts are the statutory bodies responsible for the management of staff, health and social care services on the ground and have control their own budgets. In 2007 the 19 Health and Social Services Trusts were merged into six Health and Social Care Trusts.

Prescription charges

On 29th September 2008 Health minister Michael McGimpsey announced that prescription charges were to be phased out by April 2010, being first reduced to £3.00 in January 2009.[7] This was widely accepted by the four main parties of the Northern Ireland Executive plus the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. The move will bring Northern Ireland in line with the Welsh system which has already abolished charges, and Scotland which plans to do the same. There is no indication as of yet whether or not England may follow suit or retain charges.

Ambulance Service

Northern Ireland also has its own dedicated Ambulance Service.

See also


External links



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