Nurse offers £5 massages to Edinburgh hospital staff as 'thank you' gift from patients

Juliet Barton gives a nurse a massage.Juliet Barton gives a nurse a massage.
Juliet Barton gives a nurse a massage.
Patients at the Western General Hospital are saying thank you to NHS staff by buying at-work massage vouchers for stressed-out health care workers.

The gift cards provide staff with a ten-minute massage and can be bought in the hospital’s Royal Voluntary Services outlets for £5 each.

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The health-care professional, who is originally from County Antrim in Northern Ireland and currently lives in Stockbridge, has worked in the busy city hospital for four years.

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During her time at the Western General, she has noticed many members of staff leaving the profession due to “burnout” which she thinks is caused by the high levels of stress and responsibility on the wards as they care for patients and meet an increasing demand for their help.

She wanted to do something to help control stress levels of the incredibly hard-working staff at NHS Lothian and explained this is why she launched the relaxation-boosting massage project.

Ms Barton, who is also a trained massage therapist, currently carries out the treatments on wards at Western General single-handedly.

Positive Feedback

The NHS employee went on to say that while all the staff love receiving tokens of thanks, this usually comes in the form of chocolate which can make it hard for health-care professionals to practise what they preach and live a healthy lifestyle. Staff are not allowed to accept cash or valuable gifts from patients under strict NHS rules.

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She said: “Staff love a card and chocolates. Knowing we have made a difference makes it all worthwhile. Yet long shifts and stress and the readily available chocolates turn us into hungry gannets. So my thinking was: what if we could offer something other than chocolate to staff? Something health-promoting that reduces staff sickness and stress and contributes to making staff feel valued and supported in the workplace?”

While the service has only been running for two months it is steadily growing in popularity throughout Western General wards.

Ms Barton said: “The feedback has been 100 per cent positive with lots of staff members telling me that a simple massage helps them handle the stress of the ward better. And patients have jumped on board with the idea too.”

She hopes that the success of this project will see the scheme rolled out across all hospitals in Edinburgh, adding: “I get quite emotional about how good the NHS is – it is such a wonderful and important service and I just want to help support the staff.”