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Press Release

Major disruption experienced across Health and Social Care


Health and Social Care organisations across Northern Ireland are experiencing major disruptions to many services today due to strike action.

All Emergency Departments remain open as normal.

Omagh Hospital’s Urgent Care and Treatment Centre remains open.

South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injury Unit (MIU), Mid Ulster MIU, Bangor MIU and Ards MIU are closed today.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is prioritising 999 calls and those calls which are less serious in nature may face a delay in response times.

Significant closures and reduced services are also being experienced across many community services including Mental Health, Learning Disability, Older People’s and Children’s Services.

Speaking on behalf of HSC organisations, Valerie Watts, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board said:

“I fully understand the frustrations our colleagues right across HSC have in relation to pay and staffing levels and respect their right to take Industrial Action.

“It has been an extremely challenging day for everyone working in Health and Social Care. As the strike action is currently ongoing it is too early to assess the full extent of the impact, but we know that there has been widespread disruption to the majority of hospital and community services.

“There is a lot of work continuing across the system to ensure that, in conjunction with Union colleagues, we can mitigate disruption to urgent and time critical care. And we are very thankful to staff and unions for all of their work to help protect safe staffing levels in these areas.

“All Trusts are coping at present but are reporting significant pressures in our Emergency Departments and patients are experiencing lengthier delays than usual at this busy time of the year. Hospital discharges are also heavily impacted today as a result of strike action.

“Our key priority is ensuring that emergency, urgent and critical care is provided safely to our patients and service users.  The priority will be on the treating emergency and life threatening conditions first.

“I sincerely apologise to all our patients and services users who have been impacted and distressed by the many cancellations, service closures and disruptions. This is regrettable, and Trusts will ensure appointments are rescheduled as soon as practically possible.”

Appeal to the public:

For further high level details on the impact of the strike action and action short of strike go to www.hscboard.hscni.net/hsc-industrial-action-updates

 For press enquiries contact the Health and Social Care Board’s Communications Officer on 028 9536 3278.


See below figures on hospital cancellations – please note, as this is a fluid situation, this total figure is subject to change.

There has also been significant disruption and closures to many social care and community services as previously reported.

Further information on the impact of today’s Strike Action will be available on Friday 20 December.

For an overview of all the services closed and reduced see: https://hscboard.hscni.net/hsc-industrial-action-updates


For the latest information go to: