Health bosses were accused today of wasting taxpayers’ money after it emerged medics were being invited to a week-long “wellness festival”.
NHS workers in east England can take part in a series of virtual sessions from Monday.
Some are designed to increase well-being by providing a “compassionate space” for stressed employees.
One, bizarrely named ‘What if we were salmon?’, aims to help workers who feel they are ‘swimming hard against the current’.
Other sessions include a “Boys Club” for men confused about menopause, “Dynamic Breathwork” and a class with former TV fitness guru Mr. Motivator.
However, government sources have slammed the series of events as “insane nonsense” and said it was evidence the NHS had gone “completely tonto”.
Critics said the event “couldn’t come at a worse time” as the health service grapples with several crises, including record backlogs, deadly ambulance delays and access problems with GPs and dentists.
NHS East of England staff will be invited to virtual sessions at a wellness festival from Monday next week, where they will be asked ‘what if we were salmon?’ (left). Other sessions include a “Boys Club” for men confused about menopause (right), “Dynamic Breathwork” and “Emotional Freedom” forums.
Officials said the event would help workers who feel they are “swimming hard against the current” (pictured newly appointed Health Secretary Therese Coffey).
However, government sources slammed the “lack of nonsense” on offer, including sessions with former TV fitness guru Mr Motivator (pictured).
What sessions are offered at the NHS Wellbeing Festival?
What if we were salmon?
This interactive, supportive session will ask the question what if we were salmon?
Ever feel like you’re swimming hard against the tide and longing to get to calmer waters?
In this time together we will explore what it could be like, how we could get there and give you the opportunity to share how it feels right now.
Do you get confused when people talk about menopause?
Would you like to help but don’t know how?
Are there people in your personal/work life who are going through menopause?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this session is for you.
Come and discuss your concerns/confusions in a safe environment with our Boys Club Moderators.
Learn how you can better support the people in your life.
Train with Mr Motivator!
Legendary fitness guru Mr Motivator, known for his feisty personality and colorful outfits, joined Sarah, Nicole and Gem from the East of England Staff Experience and Engagement Team and a group of energetic staff at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site for a workout and record a motivational lecture for all our regional colleagues to watch and participate in their free time!!
The Wellbeing Festival, as it is also known, has renamed its salmon session “Resilience under Pressure”.
However, the NHS psychological support service Here For You, which promotes events for staff in Essex and Hertfordshire, still lists him under his original name.
His description reads: “This interactive, supportive session will ask the question what if we were salmon?
“Ever feel like you’re swimming hard against the tide and longing to get to calmer waters?
“In this time together, we will explore what it could be like, how we could get there, and give you an opportunity to share how it’s feeling right now.”
Meanwhile, the Boys Club session on menopause is aimed at men who “want to help but don’t know how.” It is designed to help male employees support people in their lives who are going through “the change”.
All sessions are free for NHS medical staff and backroom staff and it is not clear how many will attend or how much the events will cost overall.
The forums take place during normal working hours from Monday to Friday – although it is not clear whether employees will have to take time off for this.
A Government source told the Daily Telegraph: “This kind of misguided nonsense is further evidence that the NHS has gone completely tonto.
“While ordinary Brits worry about what winter will bring, NHS managers are wasting money on this rot.
“The new Health Secretary must sharpen her ax with glee to avoid such waste and focus the NHS on looking after people who need help.”
And a healthcare worker described the event as “just outrageous” and questioned why monies were being spent on TV personalities like Mr Motivator.
The fitness trainer – real name Derrick Evans – received an MBE earlier this year after rising to prominence at GMTV in the 1990s.
Danielle Boxall, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance advocacy group, told MailOnline: “Taxpayers expect NHS trusts to focus on frontline care and not waste time on wellbeing workshops.
“While patients face serious delays in their appointments and surgeries, NHS middle managers are busy organizing a progressive program of lectures and events.
“NHS bosses need to put an end to this kind of waste and get back to tackling the huge health backlog.”
Figures from NHS England show 6.8 million patients were waiting in line for routine hospital treatment in July, the equivalent of one in eight people. Almost 380,000 have been waiting for over a year
Emergency department data shows that three in 10 Brits were forced to wait longer than four hours in emergency departments in August, while almost a thousand waited 12 hours a day
Ambulance response times recovered slightly in August, but the time it took paramedics to arrive at the scene was still well above target
Data from NHS England, which revealed the waiting list for routine surgeries like hip and knee replacements, rose to a record 6.8 million in July.
The gap shot to record highs before Covid. But the pandemic and the fallout from lockdown has meant queues have grown even further.
Meanwhile, appalling ambulance delays have seen patients wait as long as 40 hours to be taken to hospital.
Heart attack and stroke patients have to wait an hour on average for a vehicle to show up, according to the latest NHS data – more than triple the 18-minute target.
At the same time, patients have complained about how difficult it is to see both their family doctor and their dentist.
A spokesman for the East of England NHS said: “This regional event has been developed to provide NHS staff with help with finances and living expenses, as well as managing post-pandemic fatigue so they can better focus on patient care.”