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Healthy Ireland at Saolta University Healthcare Group

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Table of Contents

     - Healthy Ireland 
Initiatives & Programmes
     - Arts
     - Breastfeeding
     - Calorie posting 
     - Flu vaccination
     - Healthier vending                                                                                                                                                                                 - 
Making Every Contact Count                                                     
     - Mental Health
     - Nutrition and Hydration
     - PALS
     - Physical activity
     - Saolta choirs
     - Smarter Travel
     - Smoking cessation
     - Student placements
     - Sustainability
     - Weight management
     - Hospital
     - CHO
     - National

     - Hospital
     - CHO
     - National
Publications & Research



Healthy Ireland: The national context

Healthy Ireland is a Government-led initiative which aims to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society.

Healthy Ireland has come about because of concerns that the current health status of people living in Ireland – including lifestyle trends and health inequalities – is leading us towards a future that is dangerously unhealthy, and very likely unaffordable.

The many risks to the health and wellbeing of people living in Ireland include some which are obvious: issues such as overweight and obesity, mental health, smoking, alcohol and drugs. Healthy Ireland seeks to provide people and communities with accurate information on how to improve their health and wellbeing and seeks to empower and motivate them by making the healthy choice the easier choice.

We also now know that many of the factors that influence a person’s health and wellbeing, such as their education level, income, housing and work conditions are determined by social, environmental and economic policies beyond the direct responsibility of the health sector.

This understanding calls for a partnership approach in all the actions Healthy Ireland is taking to achieve a healthier Ireland. The health sector alone cannot address these problems – we must collectively change our approach.

This is what Healthy Ireland is about – making Ireland a healthier nation through cultural change, operational change and mindset change. Everyone has a role to play in taking care of our physical and mental health for the initiative to be truly successful.

Healthy Ireland aims to create an Ireland where health and wellbeing is valued and supported and on everyone’s agenda in a meaningful way.

The Healthy Ireland Framework was launched in 2013 and articulates four central goals for improved health and wellbeing.

The Health and Wellbeing Programme in the Department of Health  is responsible for the coordination of the implementation of Healthy Ireland. A number of new structures have been put in place to ensure that all sectors of society are given opportunities to participate in the initiative. These include a Cross-Sectoral Group comprising high-level representatives from Government Departments and key State agencies which have been established to provide strategic direction, to monitor and evaluate implementation over time and to provide clear communications channels across Government.

The Minister for Health has also appointed 35 members to the Healthy Ireland Council, a multi-stakeholder national forum which provides the platform to connect and mobilise communities, families and individuals into a national movement with one aim: supporting everyone to enjoy the best possible health and wellbeing.

The Healthy Ireland framework document can be downloaded from here.

For more information log on to


Healthy Ireland: The Saolta context

Saolta University Healthcare Group was the first hospital group to develop a Healthy Ireland (HI) Implementation Plan ( in response to the Healthy Ireland Framework 2013-2025. The plan was launched on October 9th 2014 by Saolta, An Taoiseach and Dr. Stephanie O’Keefe, HSE National Director of Health and Wellbeing.

The plan for the Saolta University Health Care Group provides an opportunity to increase the health and wellbeing of our service users and also for the organisation to be a leader in creating a culture of wellbeing. The plan has the full support of the Saolta executive council and the board of directors.

Since the launch of the plan, staff across the group have developed and maintained a number of health and wellbeing initiatives for its service users. A number of annual reports have been published and these outline in detail the full range of activity for each hospital within the group. 

The Saolta HI plan is administered through a number of committees for health and wellbeing including a steering group, implementation group and local hospital groups. Partners include staff from the National Health and Wellbeing Division, Community Healthcare Organisations, Public Health, Environmental Health, academic institutions and the Department of Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE West. 


Healthy Ireland contacts 


Galway University Hospital's                                                

Letterkenny University Hospital                                                                                        

Mayo University Hospital                                                                                                   

  • Ms. Lucy Martindale, Asistant General Manager:
  • Ms. Caroline Conway, Nurse Practice Development Co-ordinator: 

Portiuncula University Hospital  

Roscommon University Hospital:                                                                                

Sligo University Hospital:                                                                                                     

  • Ms. Pauline Kent, Smoking Cessation and Brief Intervention Co-ordinator/ Healthy Ireland Lead: 



    • Department of Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE West
    • CHO 1
    • CHO 2
    • National Health and Wellbeing Division, HSE
    • Department of Public Health, HSE West
    • Department of Environmental Health, HSE West
    • Saolta Patient Council
    • Galway University Hospital's Arts Trust
    • NUI Galway
    • Sligo IT
    • Athlone IT
    • Smarter Travel Workplaces


    Initiatives & Programmes


    Galway University Hospital's Arts Trust continues to deliver innovative initiatives across GUH and is extending its programmes to other hospitals within Saolta. For details of all Arts programmes, please contact Margaret Flannery, Arts Trust Director,


    Saolta is committed to promoting and increasing breastfeeding rates. A number of our hospitals are baby friendly accreddited (BFHI). The services provided across the group include breastfeeding training, education and support groups. 

    Calorie posting 

    The purpose of the HSE Calorie Posting Policy is to promote awareness and increase consumption of healthier food and drink choices amongst HSE staff and the public attending HSE healthcare facilities, by highlighting the calorie content of food and drinks provided.

    The policy applies to all in-house catering and contracted catering and vending services throughout the HSE. The policy does not apply to in-patient menus.

    Saolta became the first hospital Group to introduce the HSE calorie posting policy in 2015. For further information about the policy log on to

    Flu vaccination

    Saolta is committed to increasing the uptake of the flu vaccine amongst healthcare workers to protect all service users from contracting the influenza virus. Staff uptake of the vaccine has improved from 16% in 2015-16 to 24% in 2016-17. The group is aiming for an uptake of over 30% for the 2017-18 season. The flu vaccine lead for the group is Ms. Pamela Normoyle: 

    Healthier vending

    The HSE approved a Healthier Vending Policy in 2014 to offer service users the option of 'better choice' vending drinks or snacks than traditionally offered. Better choice products have less fat, sugar, salt and calories than 'other choice' products. 

    The Policy requires that all vending machines will stock, at a minimum, 60% 'better choice' options. Saolta is working with its catering contractors and the National Nutrition Surveillance Centre to ensure that all vending machines are in compliance with the policy. To view the poilcy, log on to

    Making Every Contact Count

    Making Every Contact Count was established by the HSE to support the implementation of Healthy Ireland in our health services and help people to make healthier lifestyle choices.

    Through the programme, health professionals will support patients make healthier lifestyle choices.

    During routine consultations, health professionals ask patients about lifestyle behaviours related to chronic disease. The goal of these 'contacts' is to address risk factors for chronic disease. Through these contacts, health professionals will help patients achieve positive long-term behaviour change.

    The main risk factors health professionals will talk about are:

    • tobacco use
    • alcohol and drug use
    • unhealthy eating
    • physical activity

    Why we need Making Every Contact Count

    Chronic disease treatment puts an unsustainable pressure on the current health services. Making Every Contact Count aims to relieve that pressure by helping prevent chronic disease and empowering patients to manage their chronic disease.

    There are approximately 30 million 'contacts' to the Irish health service every year. 14 million of these are with GP services.

    Healthcare professionals are being asked to take the opportunity during their daily contacts with patients and service users to:

    • support patients to make lifestyle choices that help prevent chronic diseases
    • promote self-management of existing chronic diseases

    Training Programme

    The Making Every Contact Count training programme is available to all healthcare professionals in Ireland. It was developed in consultation with healthcare professionals and patients in order to provide effective tools and knowledge to carry out a brief intervention with patients or service users.

    The E-learning training programme consists of 6 x 30-minute e-learning modules.

    Outline of the e-learning modules

    The Making Every Contact Count training modules include:

    • Introduction to behaviour change – providing a foundation in behaviour change theory and techniques including the underlying principles of a patient centred approach.
    • Four topic modules on smoking, alcohol and drugs, healthy eating and active living.
    • A skills into practice module - demonstrates the skills of how to carry out a brief intervention across a range of topics through a suite of video scenarios using real lifehealthcare professionals

    Register for training

    Following completion of the on-line module there will be an opportunity to complete a classroom-based ‘Enhancing your brief intervention skills’ workshop. More details to follow about the locations of the workshops.

    This training programme has been approved by a range of  Healthcare Professional bodies for Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

    Browser information

    To run the modules you will need Internet Explorer Version 10 or above. Check which version is installed on your computer.

    You can also download Chrome to enable you to view the modules.

    For further information log on to

    Mental Health

    Saolta offers many mental health supports for staff and service users. Programmes include:

    Nutrition and Hydration

    Nutrition and hydration committees are in place across the group. These committees focus on initiatives such as protected mealtimes, MUST screening, audits, red tray initiatives, patient food satisfaction, Plate Pals and more. 


    The Patient Advice Liasion Service has been in place in the UHG ED Dept. since October of 2014. The PALS role is now well established in the Department. PALS is involved in information giving to patients who are in the waiting room and those within the department also- answering questions, highlighting emerging problems to ED staff and assisting with flow.

    Physical activity

    Saolta promotes many physical activity initiatives across the group. The include:

    Saolta choirs

    Each hospital has its own staff choir. The choirs provide a fantastic outlet for staff, patients and visitors to enjoy. A number of choirs have produced their own recordings, available on iTunes and CD, with sales proceeds being donated to charity. 

    Smarter Travel

    Saolta signed up to the Smarter Travel Charter in 2015. Smarter Travel Workplaces is a voluntary programme working with large employers to implement workplace travel plans or actions to promote walking, cycling, public transport, car-sharing and the use of technology in place of travel. Galway University Hospital's were the winners of the 2015 Smarter Travel Workplace of the Year Award in 2015.

    Smoking cessation

    Saolta University Healthcare Group operates a no smoking policy across all of its campus grounds. The group has three smoking cessation officers who provide a vital service to patients, staff and the community. An overview of the services can be found in our annual reports.

    Sligo Service Co-ordinator:

    Ms. Pauline Kent


    Phone: 071 917 4548

    Letterkenny Service Co-ordinator:

    Ms. Elaine Robinson


    Phone: 074 912 3678

    Galway Service Co-ordinator:

    Ms. Colette Walsh


    Phone: 091 542103

    Student placements

    Saolta has partnerships with NUI Galway, Athlone IT and Sligo IT to facilitate student programmes in the areas of health promotion and nutrition. Over the past number of years many students have supported the development, delivery and evaluation of projects in the areas of calorie posting, stress control, smoking cessation and the Arts. 


    Saolta work in partnership with the National Sustainability Office to develop and maintain programmes to reduce waste, conserve water and electricity among other initiatives.

    Weight management

    Dr. Francis Finucane, Consultant Endocrinologist, and his team provide a dedicated bariatric service for patients across the region. The service is also available to staff, who can self refer via their local occupational health department.








    The Saolta Health and Wellbeing Training plan was launched by the National Director of Health and Wellbeing, Dr. Stephanie O’Keefe in September 2016. The plan offers Saolta staff and patients a comprehensive directory of health and wellbeing services, training opportunities and resources. The plan can be accessed here

    Upcoming training programmes:





    Publications & Reseach

    Please refer to our publications section for all Healthy Ireland related documents.