Published: 24/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5947 Page 36

Sheffield Care trust is one of the few trusts in the UK that offers integrated complementary therapies to NHS patients in both primary and secondary care services.

Julie Leeson is director of the therapy agency at the trust, which employs a homeopath and massage therapist. The delivery of these services to patients is co-ordinated alongside their traditional medical care, but could having complementary therapies be just as beneficial for NHS employees?

'For some people, especially those with stressful, hectic jobs, seeing a complementary therapist might be useful, ' says Julie. 'We have seen staff on an informal basis before and it would be nice if it was more widely available to staff on some level.' It is worth noting, though, that not everyone appreciates these kinds of treatments. But Julie is a fan.

'I see a massage therapist in my spare time and it helps me deal with stress, ' she says.

'One trust offered subsidised access to complementary therapies for staff, but it was an isolated case, where a recently qualified individual set up the initiative.' Does she think that NHS staff will ever gain better access to complementary therapies?

'I do not know whether using our resources for staff would be looked upon favourably, ' she says. There is a danger it could be seen as a luxury to staff, despite having major benefits.

'We have to put effort into working with current initiatives like Improving Working Lives.

'The focus for integrated complementary therapies, is to be seen as a provision for clients and patients alongside traditional medicine.'