Governance in Health and Social Care an introduction

This section provides an overview of Governance in Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland.

What is Governance 

Governance is "the system by which an organisation directs and controls its functions and relates to its stakeholders” HM Treasury

In other words, the way in which organisations:

  • manage their business
  • determine strategy & objectives
  • go about achieving these objectives

Arm’s Length Bodies Partnership Agreements

The Department manages its relationships with its 16 Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs) by way of Partnership Agreements.

The purpose of the Partnership Agreement is to set out the governance framework and assurance arrangements which have been agreed and are in place between the Department and the ALB.

Partnership Agreements are reviewed and agreed by both partners ahead of implementation and arrangements are periodically reviewed.

Current Partnership Agreements in place are:


Effective Date

Belfast Health & Social Care Trust

08 May 2024

Business Services Organisation

Under Review

Northern Health & Social Care Trust

14 March 2024

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

Under Review

Northen Ireland Blood Transfusion Service

7 February 2024

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service

10 April 2024

Children’s Court Guardian Agency for Northern Ireland

29 January 2024

Norther Ireland Practice and Education Council

20 February 2024

Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency

Under Review

Northern Ireland Social Care Council

7 March 2024

Patient Client Council

14 February 2024

Public Health Agency

Under Review

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority

Under Review

South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust

Under Review

Southern Health and Social Care Trust

7 February 2024

Western Health and Social Care Trust

7 February 2024

Board Governance Self Assessment Tool

DoH Arm’s Length Bodies Boards  are required to complete a Board Governance Self Assessment Tool on an annual basis. 

The tool assesses the effectiveness of board composition & commitment; board evaluation, development & learning; board insight and foresight; and board engagement and involvement.

National Audit Office Audit Committee Checklist

DOH Arm’s Length Bodies are required to complete the National Audit Office Audit Committee Checklist, on an annual basis as recommended as best practice by the National Audit Office. Audit Committees can assess their performance against best practice using the checklist.

Code of Conduct and Code of Accountability For Department of Health Arm’s Length Bodies Board Members

This document comprises a Code of Conduct and a Code of Accountability for Board Members   


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