A health trust decision to enlist the help of a San Francisco-based Buddhist monk to alleviate staff stress has been blasted as “futile tokenism” by minister Sammy Wilson.
The Northern Health Trust is to hold workshops later this month with Ryushin Paul Haller to help staff be “happy, calm and content”.
The trust claims the monk, who is originally from Belfast, uses his techniques to relieve a variety of mental and physical conditions including stress and anxiety.
The trust revealed that Mr Haller was not being paid for the classes.
However, the news has still been slammed as a waste of money and time by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.
Mr Wilson told the Belfast Telegraph: “They are saying they are not spending any pennies on this.
“Firstly, they have invited staff to the sessions, which they will miss a day for. How can they say there are no costs involved?”
When asked if he would accept an invitation to the meditation workshops, Mr Wilson replied: “No I would not attend if invited. I have far better things to do with my time.”
Mr Wilson also questioned the worthiness of the sessions. He said: “I am also not so sure anything meaningful can be done with stress and mental health problems in a three-hour session. Is it futile? Can you do anything in three hours? This is sheer tokenism.”
Mr Wilson added: “This is a prime example of the culture built up around the public sector, structure upon structure.
“If these staff members have got so little to do that they have the time to run off and do this, I have got to ask, are they over- staffed?”
In response to Mr Wilson’s claims, a spokeswoman for the trust said: “Staff in health and social care services often work under considerable pressure and we encourage and promote a number of activities that can help with stress management.
“These sessions represent one such activity. We believe that by giving staff these skills and techniques we create a more effective and efficient workforce.”