RCSI Hospitals Group Launches Healthy Ireland Implementation Plan

The Minister for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, today, Tuesday 11th October, 2016 launched the RCSI Hospitals Group Healthy Ireland Implementation Plan 2016 – 2019.

Joining the Minister for the launch were Mr Ian Carter, CEO of the RCSI Hospitals Group, Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director, Health and Wellbeing, HSE; Ms Anne Maher, Chairperson of the RCSI Hospitals Group, Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO of the RCSI, Ms Sheila McGuinness, COO & RCSI Hospitals Group Healthy Ireland Executive Lead. Mr Kevin Reilly, an invited past patient of the RCSI Hospitals Group shared his lifestyle changing experience following a serious diagnosis.  

The plan includes 74 actions setting ambitious targets to better meet the needs of its growing population and healthcare workforce. The three priority areas to be progressed under this plan are: 1) Reducing the burden of chronic disease 2) Improving breastfeeding rates in the Group's three maternity services 3) Improving staff health and wellbeing

Having a large maternity hospital and Maternity Units in the Group, this plan has prioritised breast feeding. The RCSI Hospitals Group will continue to provide specific patient-centred breast feeding supports to pregnant women. It focuses on reaching the Baby Friendly Hospital Programme breastfeeding target of an annual 2 % increase in initiation rates in all Maternity Units.  With 13,544 births each year the plan includes actions to increase smoke-free, alcohol-free and overall healthy pregnancies.

The RCSI Hospitals Group is experiencing increasing patient presentations due to the rising levels of chronic diseases due to smoking, alcohol, obesity and inactivity. There are 41 actions identified to address lifestyle changes.

Minister Corcoran Kennedy congratulated the RCSI Hospitals Group for the Plan which, she said, would “ensure the protection, promotion, and improvement of the health and wellbeing of everybody living in the region served by the Group.” The Minister commented that  “none of the actions, in isolation, will reduce the increasing burden of chronic disease that we face as a health service. But all of the actions taken together, with all of the staff of the RCSI Hospitals Group committed to implementing them, will see results.”

Ms Anne Maher, Chair of the RCSI Hospitals Group, welcomed the Plan.  “Healthy Ireland offers new and exciting opportunities for us to empower patients to become more pro-active in their health and wellbeing and for our staff to be supported to focus on improving their own lifestyles.  Hospitals are busy and stressful environments which present patients and staff with challenges to achieve high quality care at all times. I believe the implementation of this plan will improve the health of our communities which in turn will enable us to change the hospital environment to become more accessible and provide a healthier environment in which patients can recover and staff can flourish. This plan also includes 10 specific actions prioritising the health & wellbeing of our 8,000 staff."

Ms Sheila McGuinness, COO of the Hospitals Group and Executive Lead for Healthy Ireland, introduced the Plan: “18% of the total population of Ireland (864,864) live in the RCSI Hospitals catchment area. This plan builds on our ongoing work to respond to the local needs of the patients in each hospital area, delivered by staff whose health and wellbeing is supported in their work place and whose role in health promotion and improvement and self management is enhanced.”  

Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, HSE National Director of Health and Wellbeing said “The launch of the RCSI Hospitals plan represents a further milestone in the roll-out of the HSE’s national implementation plan Healthy Ireland in the Health Services and follows the development of plans at Saolta and the UL Hospitals Group. Over time it is envisaged that all remaining Hospital Groups and the 9 Community Healthcare Organisations will develop similar plans. Work is underway to achieve these important milestones as part of our continued efforts to increase our focus on improving the health and wellbeing of the population we serve."

Mr Kevin Reilly who gave an uplifting and heartfelt presentation at the launch told of his life changing experience and warmly welcomed this plan: “There is need for a greater understanding among the general population on the positives accruing from healthy lifestyle, both in terms of reducing the risk of chronic illness as well as the positive impact on one's quality of life in general.  My experience shows the benefit that a change in lifestyle makes for recovery and potentially, life expectancy as well"

Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO of the RCSI, Academic Partner, emphasised the importance of implementing and evaluating the Plan.  "The RCSI looks forward to continuing their close working relationship with the RCSI Hospitals Group. The Group will play a key role in evaluating the impact/outcome of actions and initiatives identified in this plan as it strives to achieve excellence in patient care in an environment of learning and innovation," Professor Kelly said.

The plan was developed by a Healthy Ireland Team comprising of staff from the RCSI Hospitals Group, the Health & Wellbeing Division of the HSE and the RCSI (academic partner to the RCSI Hospitals Group).

Last updated on: 11 / 10 / 2016