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RCPI Director calls for hospitals to appoint wellbeing officers

The Director of Health and Wellbeing at the RCPI has called for wellbeing officers to be appointed in all hospitals.

In an interview with the Medical Independent (MI), Prof Gaye Cunnane said the concept of wellbeing needs to become more embedded in hospitals.

“A hospital that I won’t mention that is familiar to me, their ‘wellbeing’ involves a colourful A4 page with all sort of nice circles on it, but that’s very meaningless. The phrase is, ‘we don’t need yoga or an apple, we want more real support’,” Prof Cunnane told MI.

“What I would really like to see, and what is very commonplace in the States, is to have to have a wellness officer in each hospital and that person is responsible for the health and wellbeing of the staff to make sure these processes are in place.”

Prof Cunnane would also like peer support to be introduced, whereby senior trainees are trained to offer support and be a point of contact for younger colleagues who are having either personal or professional difficulties.

Since Prof Cunnane was appointed to her role in April 2019, there have been approximately 30 referrals to the service.

She said most of the referrals were for trainees at an early stage in their careers.

Currently, Prof Cunnane’s role is two days a month.

“I would love to see the role be at least half-time, if not greater than that,” she said.

“But this is a start and it’s a very positive start… We want everybody in the health service to live their best life, to thrive in the best way they can.”

 In October 2019, the health and wellbeing department was formally launched. It is staffed by a full-time psychologist, Ms Hadas Levy.

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