NHS trust takes on Buddhist monk
A Buddhist monk has been brought in to hold happiness classes for NHS workers in Northern Ireland.
Ryushin Paul Haller, from the San Francisco Zen Centre, is to run workshops later this month on how to achieve contentment and calmness for staff in the Northern Trust area.
The trust claimed the monk, who is originally from Belfast, uses his "Mindfulness" practice to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including stress and anxiety.
But Democratic Unionist MP Sammy Wilson has criticised health chiefs for spending funds on the venture. The East Antrim representative said: "If further proof is needed that there are too many managers in the health service, this is it.
"They clearly have too much time on their hands and have got their priorities wrong if they think that what is needed are sessions such as these.
"Speaking to doctors and nurses in the health service, they do not want more monks, but they want more doctors and nurses to help relieve the pressure that they are under.
"With all the pressures that the health service is facing at this time, I am disappointed that there are those who think that it is acceptable to provide such a service to staff.
"Many people may wish to attend such a session and it is their right to do so in their own time and out of their own pocket. However it is not right that public sector workers should have it paid for them by the taxpayer."
While the Trust revealed that Mr Haller was not being paid for classes, Mr Wilson questioned the use of NHS property and staff time to organise and host them.
A spokeswoman for the Trust said the sessions were being held to help under-pressure staff deal with stress and would ultimately create a more efficient workforce. "As an employer the Trust has a duty to care for our staff and we have a health and wellbeing strategy which outlines the support we offer," she said.