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.
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
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.
The Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly, is also Chief Executive of
the Health and Social Care system, as well as Principal Accounting Officer for all the Department’s
Within the Department, the key business groups are the Resources and
Performance Management Group, the Healthcare Policy Group, the Social Services Policy Group, the Health
Estates Investment Group (HEIG) and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer.
There are five professional groups within the department, each led by
a Chief Professional Officer:
provide advice to and discharge functions for the Department on medical, nursing, estates, dental, pharmaceutical
and social work matters. They also provide advice and services to the wider Northern Ireland Civil Service
and the Prison Service in respect of public health, medical and dental services.