No More Silos

There is clear evidence that our urgent and emergency care services have been under significant pressure for a number of years with growing numbers of people experiencing long waits to be seen in often overcrowded Emergency Departments (ED).

The impact of Covid-19, and the focus on infection prevention and social distancing, has driven home the urgent need for change.  To support patients and staff, we cannot allow our EDs or hospitals to continue to see this level of crowding in future.

In response, the Health Minister Robin Swann published an Urgent and Emergency Care Action plan – ‘No More Silos’ in October 2020 to maintain and improve urgent and emergency care services through the pandemic and beyond.

The action plan established a ‘No More Silos’ Network, bringing together service users, health care professionals from Primary and Secondary Care, commissioners and policy makers to oversee the delivery of 10 key actions outlined in the plan. These actions include:

  • Developing a ‘Phone First Service’
  • Establishing Urgent Care Centres
  • Developing a range of new rapid access and treatment services
  • Developing a range of services to better support older people and key groups.

The overall aim is to ensure that patients and clients requiring urgent or emergency care can access the right care, in the right place, and at the right time.


In Northern Ireland, urgent and emergency care can be defined as:

Urgent: An illness or injury that requires urgent attention but is not a life-threatening situation. Providers of urgent care in Northern Ireland at present include:

  • General practitioners during weekdays
  • GP Out of Hours Services at night and weekends
  • Pharmacies
  • Minor Injury Units (Type 3 Emergency Care Departments)
  • Type 2 and Type 3 Emergency Departments.
  • ‘Hear and treat’ and ‘See and treat’ responses by NIAS

Emergency: Life threatening illnesses or accidents which require immediate intensive treatment. Services that should be accessed in an emergency include ambulance (via 999) and emergency departments.

For the latest information about the Department of Health’s Covid-19 Urgent and Emergency Care Action Plan – ‘No More Silos’ please click here to visit their website.