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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


Publications & Research




Healthy Ireland at Saolta University Healthcare Group

Saolta University Healthcare Group was the first hospital group to develop a Healthy Ireland (HI) Implementation Plan (Saolta Publications - in response to the Healthy Ireland Framework 2013-2025. 

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. 

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 which are outlined below. 

Healthy Ireland initiatives are delivered through a number of committees for health and wellbeing including a regional implementation group and local hospital groups. Partners include staff from the National Health and Wellbeing Division, Community Healthcare Organisations, Public Health, academic institutions and the Department of Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE West. 

Programmes are funded centrally by Saolta and nationally from HSE Strategic Planning and Transformation. 

Healthy Ireland contacts 


Galway University Hospital's                                                

Letterkenny University Hospital                                                                                                     

Mayo University Hospital                                                                                                   

Portiuncula University Hospital  

Roscommon University Hospital:                                                                                

Sligo University Hospital:                                                                                                     



  • Department of Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE West
  • CHO 1
  • Community Healthcare West 
  • National Health and Wellbeing Division, HSE
  • Department of Public Health, HSE West
  • 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. Breastfeeding -

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 Calorie Posting Policy -

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 60% in 2020-21. 

Healthier vending

The HSE updated its Healthier Vending Policy in 2019 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 policy, log on to hse-vending-policy-20191.pdf

Making Every Contact Count

Making Every Contact Count is a training programme established by the HSE to support the implementation of Healthy Ireland in our health services and help people to 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 byempowering patients to both prevent chronic disease and in other cases manage their chronic disease better. 

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 life healthcare professionals.

Register for training

Following completion of the on-line module there will be an opportunity to complete an online ‘Enhancing your brief intervention skills’ workshop. 

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:

Check locally with your Healthy Ireland contact for further details.

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 was established in October of 2014 and aims to improve the patient experience while attending our hospitals. PALS provides support to patients and relatives through many initiatives including information giving, answering questions, highlighting emerging problems to staff and assisting with flow. PALS are also involved in service improvement initiatives including health literacy, butterfly scheme, personal care packs and #hellomynameis. 

Physical activity

Saolta promotes many physical activity initiatives across the group. They 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 provides smoking cessation services that provide a vital service to patients, staff and the community. 

Sligo University Hospital Service Co-ordinator:

Ms. Morna O'Hanlon


Phone: 071 917 4548/ 0870628730

Letterkenny University Hospital Service Co-ordinator:

Ms. Elaine Robinson


Galway University Hospital Service Co-ordinator:

Service will resume January 2024. 

Community Healthcare West Service:

Phone: 091 737262

Description: This service is available free of charge to anyone who wants to quit smoking. Please call for an appointment via telephone, online by smartphone or computer or face to face whichever suits you best.

County: Galway, Mayo and RoscommonEmail:

Student placements

Saolta has partnerships with NUI Galway, Athlone IT and Sligo IT to facilitate student placements. A number of 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

Publications & Reseach

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