Foundation Doctor’s Guide to Northern Ireland

Most of the hospitals within Northern Ireland Foundation School are scattered around the hub of Belfast, with a vast array of tertiary centres.

Belfast City Hospital is a 900-bed teaching hospital with regional cancer & renal focus, Ulster Hospital is the regional centre for plastic & max-fax surgery, Royal Victoria is the regional specialist in infectious disease and Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children is the only paediatric-only hospital in Northern Ireland.

Belfast is very social, with a great nightlife, food culture and fascinating arts scene, including the Titanic Belfast & Ulster

For a quieter, more rural life, there are several district general hospitals such as those based in the coastal town of Derry, and the inland towns of Enniskillen and Newry. These are within 90 minutes travel to Belfast via a good train & road network.

Messly wants to help doctors make evidence-based decisions about their careers. We’ve put together a short guide to the Northern Ireland Foundation School to help you rank your rotation programmes. Below is a snapshot of hospital ratings and reviews from the Messly community of doctors together with information about the geography of the region. Sign up to Messly to learn more – we’ve got over 40,000 junior doctor ratings for you to explore.



Click on the hospital to see indepth reviews & GMC ratings on it’s specialties.


Quick Reviews

  • Small and friendly hospital with very good senior support. Parking good value and close to hospital. Good range of medical specialties.
  • Not a large hospital/trauma centre.
Top tips

GI and Endocrine teams probably the best to be on.

Foundation Year 1, General Medicine – Mater Infirmorum Hospital


  • Supervision good. When workload allows, there are opportunities to do skills such as ng tubes, LPs, ascitic taps. More advanced skills are few and far between but you are encouraged to assist and learn. A reasonable variety of clinical experience due to the rurality of the location.
  • Extremely understaffed at all levels. Really impacts on workload and enjoyment. Makes you learn to be efficient and organise. Only 1 FY1 per ward of 30-40, no FY2. Sometimes no reg or consultant available. Makes you learn to be independent very quickly but makes a stressful job. Difficult to get any time off when you need it because the cover is so tight.
Top tips

Low ranking candidates really struggle here because of the requirement to be so independent and efficient. Higher ranked folk with good common sense, a desire to learn and get stuck in will fly here. Lots of opportunities to be involved in research and QI.

Foundation Year 1, General Medicine – Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary

Explore our Training Navigator to learn more

We’ve created the Training Navigator, a tool designed using the GMC National Training Survey data, which allows you to compare deaneries and rotations based on 40,000 junior doctors’ ratings and reviews. It’s free to use – click below to sign up and give yourself the full picture.

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