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What is NISTAR

About us

NISTAR (Northern Ireland Specialist Transport and Retrieval) is the combined critical care transfer service for Northern Ireland. It incorporates the neonatal, paediatric and adult retrieval services.

NISTAR provides advanced resuscitation, stabilisation and inter-hospital transfer of critically ill infants, children and adults. Patients are managed by specialised clinical teams experienced in transport and retrieval. The service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Approximately 1200 patients are transferred by NISTAR annually.

NISTAR also provides advice, support, education and training to hospitals on the safe transfer of critically ill patients.

NISTAR is hosted by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS). BHSCT provide the medical and nursing staff, NIAS the dedicated critical care ambulances and crew.

At present the service consists of four distinct transfer teams:

  1. Adult NISTAR – Consultant (ICU/Anaesthesia/Emergency Medicine) and Transport Nurse based in the Regional Intensive Care Unit (RICU), Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.
  2. Paediatric NISTAR – Consultant (ICU/Anaesthesia/Paediatrics) and Transport Nurse based in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC).
  3. Neonatal NISTAR – Consultant (Neonatology), Registrar (Paediatrics/Neonatology) and Transport Nurse based on 1st Floor, Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital (RJMH), Belfast.
  4. Nurse-led NISTAR – Transport Nurse based in PICU, RBHSC (for lower acuity paediatric and neonatal transfers).


Mission statement

To provide the highest quality critical care to infants, children and adults in need of specialist medical retrieval.



To get the

  • right patient,
  • transported in the right condition,
  • to the right care,
  • in the right time,
  • by the right people with the right skill set.