The HSE, wellbeing and spin


Sir, –As I read the online edition of The Irish Times, I came upon the article “HSE sees ‘marked improvement’ in staff wellbeing after €2.8 million spend” (News, September 28th). I was reading this seemingly anodyne article after finishing a 13-hour night shift as a specialist registrar in a large tertiary teaching hospital. The article in question appears to suggest that significant benefits to staff have been appreciated through the introduction of yoga, mindfulness, resilience training, and choral singing.

I, like most, have a passing awareness of the benefits of such activities on the mood of the participants, in that I have read prior articles extolling their virtues. I also, like most doctors in training and other healthcare professionals, have no time to engage in such activity in my workplace, or outside of it for that matter. We are working in increasingly pressured environments that are chronically under-resourced and oversubscribed. Few of us can commit to a weekly meeting of an evening choir practice due to shift patterns. Even fewer of us would have an uninterrupted lunch break of sufficient duration to attend a yoga class.

Our wellbeing could genuinely be improved through much more simple, but less newsworthy, means. For instance, providing adequate locker space for staff in changing rooms and improved availability of food outside the hours of 8am to 5pm. Adequate rest space for shift workers, toasters in the tea room, or guaranteed parking for those who have to commute. Not being emergency taxed every six months.

And while I am here, we do not need an extra bank holiday or “special recognition”. Bank holidays mean reduced staffing levels on the floor, cancelled operations and clinics, overall increases in waiting lists and a definite decrease in wellbeing on post-bank holiday Tuesday mornings. What we would like is basic recognition that we work hard every day, pandemic or not, for the benefit of our patients. Patients who are suffering in a failing system. We do not need resilience, mindfulness or “mood music”. We need doctors and nurses and physiotherapists and radiographers, and retention of our interns and our colleagues who do not hold EU passports, and work-based childcare, and adequate rest, and a break from the spin that everything is okay. – Yours, etc,


Carrigaline, Co Cork.