Staff at Leicestershire and Rutland Healthcare trust are receiving £50,000 of pampering this month after managers agreed to match the government's one-off £25,000 payment to trusts to improve working lives in the NHS.

A range of alternative therapies, including Indian head massage and reflexology as well as yoga and juggling classes, are on the stress-busting menu, together with workshops on stress management.

'Our 6,000 staff were asked what they would like the£50,000 spent on and they decided they would like a bit of pampering themselves, as a change from looking after other people, ' a spokeswoman said.

'Juggling is supposed to be a really good way to beat stress and all we want is a happy workforce that continues to give a good service, ' she added.

Staff have no real perks and do not like to spend any money that should be spent on patient care, but keeping the workforce healthy and happy is vital, he said.

At the end of the programme the trust plans to carry out an evaluation exercise to see whether similar therapies for tackling stress should be permanently on offer.

Leicestershire-based patient support group National Patient Network has attacked the trust's exercise as 'pure window-dressing', insisting that the money would have been better spent on childcare and promoting flexible hours.