UL Hospitals Group launches Healthy Ireland Implementation Plan: June 2016

A HAPPIER and healthier population and workforce is the aim of an ambitious four-year plan published last Friday by the UL Hospitals Group.Identifying some 60 priority actions to improve the health and wellbeing of the c 380,000 people it serves and the 3,300 staff it employs, the UL Hospitals Group’s Healthy Ireland Implementation Plan 2016-2019 was launched this Friday by CEO Colette Cowan. She was joined in launching the plan by Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director, Health and Wellbeing, HSE; Prof Niall O’Higgins, Chairman, UL Hospitals Group; Hugh Brady, CFO, Executive Lead for Healthy Ireland, UL Hospitals Group and former Ireland rugby captain Keith Wood, who is Chair of the Healthy Ireland National Council.

Hospital groups have been asked to adopt plans in line with the national Healthy Ireland strategy and its three pillars of Heath Service Reform; Reducing the Burden of Chronic Disease and Improving Staff Health and Wellbeing.As details of the plan were announced this Friday, Dr O’Keeffe stated:“The health and wellbeing of everyone living in Ireland, and everyone working with our health system, is the most valuable asset that we possess as a nation. While we are focused day-to-day on the challenge of providing high quality safe services in our hospitals to the people in our care, we must also be focused on the future and the challenge we face in terms of unsustainable healthcare costs driven by rising levels of chronic illness. An increased emphasis on prevention, early detection and self-management to improve the health and wellbeing of all our citizens is therefore as important for a modern health service as our priorities of quality, access, value, standards of care and patient outcomes.”Ms Cowan said that one of the ultimate aims of Healthy Ireland and of UL Hospitals’ plan was to empower people to avoid hospital admissions in the first place.“But we have to ensure that when they do visit that not only are we providing the safe, quality services which people expect but that we are on message with the Healthy Ireland agenda. Healthy Ireland is potentially the most transformative initiative ever undertaken in the Irish health service, which if successful will lead to vastly improved outcomes for our patients and countless billions in savings for the Exchequer,” she said.

Of the implementation plan, Ms Cowan added: “We have identified approximately 60 priority actions. They aim to bring about organisational change to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and staff and their planned implementation has been sequenced over the next three years. As I have said, one of the aims of the plan is to ensure that with the right education, care and treatment at home, patients can empower themselves to keep well longer and avoid hospital admissions. "

The plan also realises that no single institution in the MidWest has greater influence than UL Hospitals when it comes to patients and their families being encouraged to make the right choices about their physical and mental health. This plan commits our staff, who have millions of contacts every year with patients in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, to ‘Making Every Contact Count’ in line with the national framework.”Mr Brady explained that the plan was also about improving the health and wellbeing of the very staff who will be delivering these programmes and messages to patients.“Even before the launch of this plan, our staff have bought in to the health and wellbeing agenda. They have participated in runs and cycles which have benefitted mental health charities in the Mid-West. They have introduced a range of music, visual arts and other programmes to make our hospitals more welcoming and less forbidding places for our patients. They have been recognised for workplace physical activity and healthy eating approaches such as the gold medal recently awarded to the canteen team at University Maternity Hospital Limerick by the Irish Heart Foundation for their calorie counting initiative,” said Mr Brady.The Implementation Plan, while in line with the national Healthy Ireland strategy, also takes account of the unique health profile of the Mid-West region.Its actions are aimed at health challenges specific to the region. It outlines how in the Mid-West, there is a higher than average incidence of chronic disease but that the pattern varies across the three counties, with Limerick City having the highest rates.Within the Mid-West, an urban-rural divide is also reflected in health outcomes, with Limerick city and county together having above average mortality rates for the four principal causes of disease –cancer; heart disease and stroke; respiratory disease; accidents, injuries and other external causes. North Tipperary also has a similar picture except rates may be lower than the Ireland average in relation to respiratory disease. Mortality rates for Clare are more in line with the Ireland average for the four main causes and may be lower for cancer.In the Mid-West there are significant pockets of deprivation. Overall, Limerick city is one of the most deprived local authority areas in Ireland; in contrast Limerick County is comparatively more affluent. Clare and North Tipperary are near the Ireland average in relation to deprivation.Said Ms Cowan: “A pattern has long been observed that body mass index, cholesterol levels and blood pressure are persistently higher in lower socio-economic groups. The same trends are seen in chronic disease and many mental health problems.

“With higher than average levels of deprivation and inequality in the region, and particularly in Limerick City, there are significant additional human and financial costs on the population and on our health system.“It is important that we in UL Hospitals - through individual patient interventions, through education programmes, through staff training and the other measures outlined in this plan – do our utmost to reduce these costs.

The UL Hospitals Group Healthy Ireland Implementation Plan 2016-2019 is attached.

Last updated on: 20 / 06 / 2016