HSE sees ‘marked improvement’ in staff wellbeing after €2.8m spend

Almost €180,000 spent on mindfulness training and €89,000 on yoga in three years

The Health Service Executive (HSE) spent almost €180,000 on mindfulness and resilience training for staff, €89,000 on yoga and Pilates and €45,000 on choirs and singing lessons in a three-year period, an internal analysis has found.

The spend was part of a €2.8 million investment in wellbeing initiatives for staff undertaken between 2016 and 2019. A further €1.9 million was due to be provided last year, but this spending has yet to be audited.

The spending included €262,000 on outdoor furniture, €249,000 on health checks and €213,000 on a bike shelter, the analysis shows.

Other costs included €105,000 for standing desks, €77,000 for walk/step programmes, €56,000 for pedometers and €45,000 for choirs and singing lessons for staff. Some €153,000 was provided for “staff events” while €17,000 was provided for cookery and food demos.


A €59,000 spend on dedicated staff space included the cost of a "mood music subscription" while miscellaneous outlay included the €30,000 cost of "culture coach wellbeing training" in the Ireland East Hospital Group.

Spending on wellbeing initiatives for the HSE’s more than 100,000 staff has grown from €500,000 in 2016 to €893,000 in 2019.

According to the analysis, there has been a “marked improvement” in staff health and wellbeing over the period.


“This work is a key is a key enabler to building a better health service for our patients, service users and our staff,” HSE national director of strategy/transformation Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe says in internal correspondence.

“Staff health and wellbeing and the implementation of organisational-wide, evidence-based initiatives to support improved levels of health and wellbeing among staff is key to this wider Government-support programme of work.”

Analysis of the figures was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting redeployment of staff, according to the document.

The funding has been provided on a once-off basis since 2016, to fulfil a priority in the Healthy Ireland programme, but an application for ongoing core funding for the initiatives has been rejected so far in the budgetary process.

Small amounts of additional funding are provided to hospital groups for wellbeing projects provided they can match the sums involved.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.