Category Archives: Latest News

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Industrial action by junior doctors

We are expecting widespread disruption to our services as a result of the planned industrial action by junior doctors on Wednesday 6 March, 2024.

Our focus will be on maintaining safe services for acutely unwell patients within our inpatient facilities and protecting urgent and emergency care.

Most scheduled surgery and outpatient clinics will be cancelled as a result of the industrial action.

Our message to patients and service users is that you should assume your appointment is cancelled unless you are contacted by the Trust to advise otherwise.

A service user enjoys the swing while a staff member looks on.

Charitable Trust Funds swing in to action at Rathmoyle Resource Centre

Staff at Rathmoyle Resource Centre in Ballycastle have welcomed the installation of a new swing which is helping to enhance the health and wellbeing of service users.

The project was made possible by donations to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust’s Charitable Trust Funds.

The swing is now a central feature of the outdoor space at Rathmoyle, and provides additional opportunities for those with increased sensory and physical needs.

Explaining more, Manager Patricia Brown said: “We recognised there was a need to enhance our outdoor offering, and the provision of a swing was the most popular choice when we asked our service users what they would like.

“It’s located in our garden area which provides a safe and therapeutic environment, and it really encourages them to spend more time outdoors.

“We’ve noticed our service users benefiting from its calming effects, especially when they’re also enjoying the sounds of the many birds who visit our garden.

“On other occasions, when it’s quiet and the sun is shining, staff have observed some of our service users becoming so relaxed that they lie back and close their eyes.

“Even on rainy days they still want to use the swing, and some of our users are now able to use a towel to dry off the seat. This demonstrates to us how it’s enhancing their independence and self-esteem which is a real achievement for those we work with.

“It’s been fantastic for us to witness the many benefits of having the swing, and how such a seemingly simple piece of equipment can make such a difference.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of those who support the work of the Northern Trust through donations to our Charitable Trust Funds, and on behalf of everyone at Rathmoyle I want to say thank you.”

Across the Northern Trust, Charitable Trust Funds are used to deliver a wide range of activities, resources and equipment to enhance the experiences of patients, residents and clients which otherwise would not be possible.

Donations come from individuals, community groups, families, service users, sports clubs, schools and businesses, varying from £10 to thousands of pounds.

If you would like to make a donation to the Northern Trust’s Charitable Trust Funds please email or ring 028 2563 5333.

You can find out more by visiting


Appointment of Health and Social Care Trust Non-Executive Directors

The Department of Health has announced the appointment of Health and Social Care Trust Non-Executive Directors.

New appointees to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust are Scott Armstrong and George Platt as Non-Executive (Lay) Directors. Their appointments will commence on 1 March 2024 and end on a date not later than 29 February 2028.

Scott Armstrong is the Market Unit Director for Expleo Group in Northern Ireland and has been a member of the senior management team in Ireland for over 16 years. With over 25 years’ experience in the IT industry, he has held a range of director roles in sales, operations and delivery management.  Scott was central to the success and growth of Expleo NI, which has been a critical partner in large IT system implementations across the public and private sectors. His remit now also includes the transport, retail, and public sector markets throughout Ireland. He is an MSc graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, and holds distinctions in the Certificate and Diploma in Company Direction qualifications from the Institute of Directors. Scott is also a Non-Executive Director and Trustee on the Board of HMS Caroline, the Belfast Museum and visitor attraction.

George Platt is a graduate of University College, Durham University, where he achieved his master’s degree in chemistry before undertaking subsequent research at Pai Chai University and Seoul National University on the Korean Government Scholarship Programme. George previously worked in scientific research, lecturing and project management roles before joining the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) on the new Graduate Management Programme in 2023. In 2023 George was a participant of the EU global cultural relations platform in Madrid and was also invited to represent the United Kingdom as its delegate and steering group member of the 13th UNESCO youth forum in Paris. Outside of his work with the NICS, George is a member of the Emerging Leaders programme at the William J Clinton Leadership Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, and serves on the global advisory board of Generation Democracy, an international network which seeks to promote the meaningful participation of young people in decision-making processes and civic activity around the world.

The appointments are made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.

Each HSC Trust has a statutory obligation to put and keep in place arrangements for monitoring and improving the quality of health and social care which it provides to individuals and the environment in which it provides them (Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation) (NI) Order 2003).

The Board is the governing body of each Trust.  Boards comprise a Non-Executive Chair and seven Non-Executive Directors along with five Executive Directors including the Chief Executive.

Northern Trust Logo With Hospital Background

Three Non-Executive Directors appointed to the Northern Trust

The Department of Health has announced the appointment of three Health and Social Care Trust Non-Executive Directors to the Northern Trust.

New appointees to the Trust are Carol Diffin and Professor Terri Scott as Non-Executive (Lay) Directors. Their appointments commenced on 18 December 2023 and will end on a date not later than 17 December 2027. Kathy Mackenzie has been appointed as a Non-Executive (Finance) Director from 1 February 2024 to a date not later than 31 January 2028.

Carol Diffin has 39 years’ experience working in the statutory Health and Social Care sector. Carol qualified as a social worker in 1984 and has worked primarily in statutory Children’s Services across Belfast HSC Trust, Southern HSC Trust and in the Northen Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency. Throughout her career Carol has held several senior management positions, including Director of Children’s Community Services/Executive Director of Social Work in the Belfast HSC Trust from September 2018 until September 2022. Carol is currently an Associate Consultant with the HSC Leadership Centre and an Associate with Clinical Leaderships Solutions.

Professor Terri Scott has held senior leadership appointments at Ulster University, Northern Regional College, Institute of Technology, Sligo, Dublin City University and Invest Northern Ireland. Terri retired from Ulster University in 2022, where she led the portfolio for Academic Operations. Prior to this, Terri was CEO & Principal of Northern Regional College for seven years. Throughout Terri’s career she has led complex change and transformation programmes and also been a Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) overseeing major capital programmes.  Terri is an experienced Non-Executive-Director and has formerly held public appointments to the Boards of OF7QUAL (the UK qualifications regulator), Intertrade Ireland, Industrial Development Agency, and Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation. Terri has also served on the Board of Grangegorman Development Authority (Dublin) since 2018 and was reappointed in 2022.

Kathy Mackenzie worked in the education system for a number of years after receiving an MA from Dundee University.  Returning to university and obtaining a Post-Graduate Diploma in Accounting saw Kathy change direction and set up her own bookkeeping business working with small businesses in the Causeway area and specialising in Forensic accounting and Payroll services.  Until her recent retirement, Kathy worked for 29 years on the voluntary Board of Management of Triangle Housing Association which provides homes and care for people in need throughout Northern Ireland.  Whilst with Triangle Kathy chaired the Board on two occasions for a total of 5 years and at various times throughout her tenure was Chair of Finance, Housing and Development, Audit and Risk, and Remuneration Committees.

HSC Trust Non-Executive Director positions require a time commitment of one day per week and attract a remuneration of £8,883 per annum.

These appointments are made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.

Northern Trust logo and loud speaker icon

Have your say

Help us shape our future plans

Our Corporate Plan will set out what we want to achieve for those who use our services, our communities and our staff.  Despite the challenges currently facing our health and social care system we are determined to focus on improving our services, maintaining quality and safety and building on the great work that our staff do every day.

We would like you to join us at an engagement event to help us shape our future plans. We are keen to hear your views as we set out and agree our priorities within our corporate plan over the next three years.

The engagement event will take place on Friday 8 March at 2.30pm and should last around two hours. This event will be held in the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena.

If you are interested in attending please register your interest by contacting by Tuesday 5 March and we will send you further details and register you for the event.

We aim to provide an inclusive, accessible environment that enables all individuals to engage fully. If you have any questions about accessibility, or would like to request accessibility support or an adjustment (for example: reserved front row seat, large print, communication support, advance copy of slides to be projected, wheelchair access) then please let us know.


Northern Health and Social Care Trust LogoPersonal and People Involvement Logo

Smoke free logo with hospital graphic

Northern Trust urges public to follow smoke free rules

The Northern Trust is appealing to members of the public to comply with its smoke free policy at its hospital sites.

Hospitals across Northern Ireland became smoke free in 2016, but smokers continue to light up within the hospital grounds, often outside main entrances.

Northern Trust Executive Medical Director Dr Dave Watkins said: “We want to remind members of the public, as well as our own staff, that we operate a smoke free policy across all our sites. This means that smoking or vaping is not permitted. We want everyone visiting our hospitals and community buildings to enjoy a smoke free environment.

“We recognise that smoking is a difficult habit to break and we want to support anyone interested in quitting; but we do not want people who are attending hospital, some of whom are very sick and clinically vulnerable, to have to walk through clouds of smoke.

“We would encourage people to show consideration to others and also to seek help to quit the habit. We all know the dangers of smoking; the risks to our health are well documented, and there is plenty of support available locally to help people stop smoking. We also offer support to staff to help them kick the habit.”

A recent report published by the NI Audit Office found that around 15% of deaths (2,200) in Northern Ireland can be attributed to smoking each year, and around 35,000 admissions to hospital are smoking-related. In addition, a person smoking 20 cigarettes a day pays out over £4,600 each year on their habit.

Dr Watkins added: “Apart from the obvious risk to health, it is really unpleasant for visitors to be greeted by dozens of discarded cigarette butts outside hospital entrances. We would also remind people that the bus shelter located on our Antrim site should not be used as a smoking shelter as this is in breach of the smoke-free legislation.”

Many local pharmacies offer help and support to quit smoking. You can find your nearest pharmacy on the Stop Smoking NI website along with information and resources for those wanting to stop smoking.


Speakers who took part in the conference standing together, Maura Dargan, Alison Howard, Joanna Brown, Robin Swann, Prof Sir Michael McBride, Prof Sarah Hull, Jennifer Welsh, Dr Alison Livingstone, Detective Chief Superintendent Lindsay Fisher and Tracy Magill.

Conference marks 10 years of Northern Ireland’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre

Northern Ireland’s only dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre has marked its 10th anniversary with a special conference.

The Rowan, located at Antrim Area Hospital, has helped nearly 900 people each year since its doors first opened in June 2013.

Coinciding with Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, the event provided an opportunity to reflect on progress over the last 10 years and discuss what further developments and legislative provisions are required to meet the needs of sexual violence victims.

With over 100 delegates from a wide range of disciplines in attendance, the conference opened with an address from Health Minister Robin Swann, who commented on the Centre’s contribution to tackling sexual violence: “I want to pay tribute to the entire team at the Rowan for the support and care that they have provided over the last 10 years.

“While we have made considerable progress over the past decade, we know there is more to do. The current Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy has been in place for the last eight years and we are now working on its successor. The new strategy is heavily influenced by what those with lived experience have told us.

“The vision is that Northern Ireland becomes a place where domestic and sexual abuse are not tolerated. It will require partnership and collaboration across departments and across sectors, and I recognise the enormity of the challenges we face, but I am convinced that it is achievable.”

Alongside the Health Minister, the event also featured a range of keynote speakers including Sir Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, Lady Chief Justice, The Right Honourable Dame Siobhan Keegan, Victims Commissioner Designate, Geraldine Hanna, former Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir John Gillen, and Dr Eithne Dowds from Queen’s University, Belfast.

Professor Sarah Hull, Clinical Director at The Rowan, said: “We are delighted to mark The Rowan’s 10 years of service to victims of sexual violence in Northern Ireland, while having the opportunity to focus on future developments.

“Our specially trained team of doctors and nurses remain committed to providing a responsive, compassionate and high quality service to all victims of sexual violence.”

Partnership working

Reflecting on The Rowan’s successful partnership with the PSNI, Detective Chief Superintendent Lindsay Fisher, said: “Sexual violence and abuse can happen to anyone – it doesn’t matter what age, gender, race or sexuality. The impact these crimes can have is often extreme and can have a ricochet effect throughout our communities.

“Since The Rowan first opened its doors to survivors ten years ago, we have supported them as key partners. The service it offers is invaluable and the forensic evidence they help us gather in such a sensitive and respectful way has helped us achieve justice for so many.

“The experience of being a survivor of a sexual crime is a very difficult one. However, the Rowan Centre has, and will, continue to provide a complete and co-ordinated package of care to promote recovery, wellbeing and greatly enhance our robust investigative process.”

Services at The Rowan are provided by a dedicated team of doctors and nurses who are committed to providing a trauma-informed approach to a victim-led service.

They offer acute and non-acute forensic medical examinations, joint paediatric examinations, sexual health screening, treatment and advice, to men, children and young people who have experienced sexual violence and abuse, including historic cases.

You do not need to make a report to police, but you will receive specific support if you decide to do this at a later date.

The Rowan can be contacted directly 24/7, 365 days a year by ringing 0800 389 4424 or go to for further information.

Pictured above are Maura Dargan, Northern Trust Children and Young People Division Director, Alison Howard, Lead Nurse at The Rowan, Joanna Brown, Head of Service, Robin Swann,Health Minister, Professor Sir Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sarah Hull, Clinical Director at The Rowan, Jennifer Welsh, Northern Trust Chief Executive, Dr Alison Livingstone, Paediatrics Clinical Lead at The Rowan, Detective Chief Superintendent Lindsay Fisher and Tracy Magill, Assistant Director, Northern Trust Children and Young People Division Assistant Director.



Northern Trust MMR vaccine catch-up clinics

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust is undertaking a Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination catch-up campaign aimed at ensuring all children and young people are fully protected.

The vaccinations are targeted at those aged from 6 – 25 who have not yet received both doses of the MMR vaccine.

With measles cases on the rise, the campaign aims to help prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

If you, or your child, have not yet received both doses, you will receive a letter inviting you to attend a vaccination clinic.

Children aged between 12 months – 5 years can get the vaccine through their GP practice.

Encouraging all those who require a vaccination to come forward, Northern Trust Lead Nurse for Public Health Nursing Geraldine Doherty said: “It is important for people to understand that measles is a highly infectious viral illness which can lead to serious complications.

“This catch-up campaign aims to ensure that we have fully vaccinated as many of our children and young people as possible, protecting them and the wider community from serious illnesses which are wholly preventable.

“We are aware of a growing number of measles cases across the UK and Europe, so I would urge all parents, carers and young people to recognise the importance of supporting this campaign by coming forward for vaccination if it is required.”

Clinics for children aged 6 – 15

All children aged from 6 – 15 who live in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area are invited to attend their preferred clinic from the list below.

These clinics will run from 12noon – 3pm, with walk-in appointments available or you can book an appointment.

Saturday 2 March, Robinson Hospital, The Tweed Room, Newal Road, Ballymoney.

Saturday 9 March, Mid Ulster Hospital, Children’s Ward.

Clinics for those aged 16 – 25

Tuesday 5 March, Causeway Hospital canteen, 10am – 3pm.

Walk-in appointments will be available or you can book an appointment.

MMR Vaccination Information Leaflet

Group of people standing together outside - left to right Joanna Brown, Head of Service, Professor Sarah Hull, Clinical Director, Tanya Copeland, Trainee Forensic Nurse, Mark McEwan, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Sabrina Wittman, GREVIO Secretariat, Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou, GREVIO President, PSNI Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher, Tracy Magill, Northern Trust Assistant Director Children and Young People’s, Alison Howard, Lead Nurse, and Mary McGarry, Trainee Forensic Nurse.

European delegation visits The Rowan

An eminent European delegation has visited The Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Antrim Area Hospital to learn more about the support it provides to all those who have experienced sexual violence and abuse.

The group included the President of GREVIO (Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence), Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou, and Secretariat, Sabrina Wittman. The independent expert body is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention.

The visit also involved representatives from the Department of Communities Gender Policy Branch, the Criminal Inspectorate from the Department of Justice, Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan and members of the PSNI’s Public Protection team.

Joanna Brown, Head of Service at The Rowan commented: “It is a real honour for us to meet with leaders from GREVIO and showcase our services as Northern Ireland’s regional specialist centre for victims of sexual violence at this level, including our provision of forensic medical examinations and the success of our multi-agency approach.

“As we prepare to mark the 10th anniversary of The Rowan, this was a fantastic opportunity to highlight the vital role of the facility, and how we are committed to promoting and advocating for victim centred policy in order to provide the strategic framework that is required to ensure our services are truly responsive to the needs of those who seek our help.”

While the visit by the GREVIO delegation had a particular focus on women, The Rowan also provides services and support to men, children and young people who have experienced sexual violence and abuse, including historic cases.

Joanna added: “It is important that people are aware of the services we offer, and that you can contact us directly, or through the PSNI. Adults can come to us without making a report to the Police or we can support you if, and when, you decide to go down this route. If you need us, please reach out. We operate 365 days a year and provide a 24/7 service to all victims of sexual crime.”

You can contact The Rowan’s 24-hour Helpline by ringing 0800 389 4424 or visit for more information.

The Rowan is jointly funded by the Department of Health and Department of Justice.

Pictured above are Joanna Brown, Head of Service, Professor Sarah Hull, Clinical Director, Tanya Copeland, Trainee Forensic Nurse, Mark McEwan, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Sabrina Wittman, GREVIO Secretariat, Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou, GREVIO President,  PSNI Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher, Tracy Magill, Northern Trust Assistant Director Children and Young People Division, Alison Howard, Lead Nurse, and Mary McGarry, Trainee Forensic Nurse.