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

This statement sets out the Department of Health’s (DoH) public task for the purposes of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (RPSI). 

Public Task

DoH’s public task is to help the Northern Ireland Executive secure the most appropriate and effective use of resources and services for the benefit of the community. In pursuing this aim, the key objective of the Department is to deliver quality, cost effective and an efficient public health service throughout Northern Ireland with our core functions carried out within a legislative framework.


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 services
  • Public Health, which covers policy, legislation and administrative action to promote and protect the health and well-being of the population
  • Public Safety, which covers policy and legislation for fire and rescue services

As everyone in Northern Ireland will use health and social care services at various points in their lives, we must ensure that services are safe, effective and centred on the needs of the patient/ client.

To achieve this, the Department will work, among others, with our health and social care colleagues across Departments, with colleagues in the community and voluntary sector and will seek to engage people directly in their role as active citizens, with our core functions being:

  • To improve and protect population health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities 
  • To provide high quality, safe and effective care; to listen to and learn from patient and client experiences; and to ensure high levels of patient satisfaction
  • To ensure that services are resilient and provide value for money in terms of outcomes achieved and costs incurred 

Strategic Priorities

The overarching outcome is underpinned by four ‘themes’ which focus on setting the direction for the whole system, support for the Minister and the wider machinery of Government, holding the system to account and making sure that departmental resources are deployed in the most effective way.

  • Strategic Direction - The Department exercises strategic direction over the whole health, social services and public safety system by way of policy, legislation, strategy, standards and guidelines governing the services that are delivered for the most part by its arm’s length bodies.  The Plan identifies a significant programme of policy development and associated legislation, which has been drawn up in response to ministerial priorities and other statutory obligations.  The Department’s legislative programme includes primary legislation in areas such as public health, mental health, children and vulnerable adults.
  • Departmental Functions and Systems - The primary responsibility of the Department is to support the Minister and the wider machinery of government in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities for health, social care and public safety, establishing business priorities and ensuring that resources, functions and systems are appropriately aligned to their delivery.  The Department must do this in a way that ensures the most efficient and effective use of public money and complies with the delegated authority and standards set by the Assembly.
  • Accountability and Assurance - The Department does not itself provide services directly to the public.  A total of 17 ALBs provide or contribute to the provision of health, social care and public safety services.  In addition to its responsibilities for setting the policy and legal framework for these services, the Department is responsible for holding the ALBs to account for the manner in which they govern themselves and the extent to which they deliver on ministerial priorities.
  • People - People are the Department’s single most important resource.  The development of a skilled and competent workforce is a key objective for the Department as is ensuring that the workforce is appropriately aligned to agreed business priorities.


All information held by DoH which is collected or created in accordance with its public task is available for re-use, unless the re-use is excluded by the PSI regulations. RPSI does not apply where, for example, a third party owns relevant intellectual property rights, or if access to information is restricted under the Data Protection Act 2018, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Any person may apply to DoH for permission to re-use public task information.

Permission may be granted by way of:

  • an Open Government License, or
  • a license for which charges may be made

Permission to re-use information does not affect any requirement to pay a statutory fee for access to information or to a document, and is subject to any other access issues being resolved. Our publication scheme sets out the information which we have already made available for re-use.

To apply to DoH for permission to re-use public information please contact the Departmental Information Manager by email: or by post: Annexe 3, Castle Buildings, Stormont Belfast BT4 3SQ


Should you wish to make a complaint under RPSI, you should write to us in the first instance at the address above. If you are still not satisfied, you may also refer your complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.


This public task statement is reviewed annually. The next planned review is intended to be carried out in March 2019.

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