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Effect of the arts on health

Published Friday, October 6, 2017

A Westminster Hall debate on the Effect of the Arts on Health is scheduled for Wednesday 11 October 2017 at 4.30pm. The Member leading the debate is Edward Vaizey MP.

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In addition to the debate in Westminster Hall, this will be a 'Digital Debate'. Information about this can be found here on the Parliament website. The Facebook event can be found here.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Arts, Health and Wellbeing was formed in January 2014 with the aim of improving “awareness of the benefits that the arts can bring to health and wellbeing, and to stimulate progress towards making these benefits a reality all across the country”.[1]

In November 2015, the APPG launched an inquiry looking at the existing engagement of the arts in health and social care.[2] The report was published in July 2017. This found that the arts can:

  • help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived
  • help meet major challenges facing health and social care: ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health
  • help save money in the health service and social care[3]

However it said that the UK was “still very far from realising more than a small modicum of the potential contribution of the arts to health and wellbeing.” According to the report, the UK lagged behind Australia, Cuba and the Nordic countries.

The report made ten specific recommendations:

1) We recommend that leaders from within the arts, health and social care sectors, together with service users and academics, establish a strategic centre, at national level, to support the advance of good practice, promote collaboration, coordinate and disseminate research and inform policy and delivery. We appeal to philanthropic funders to support this endeavour. We hope that the centre will also have the support of Arts Council England, NHS England and Public Health England as well as the Local Government Association and other representative bodies.

2) We recommend that the Secretaries of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Health, Education and Communities and Local Government develop and lead a cross-governmental strategy to support the delivery of health and wellbeing through the arts and culture.

3) We recommend that, at board or strategic level, in NHS England, Public Health England and each clinical commissioning group, NHS trust, local authority and health and wellbeing board, an individual is designated to take responsibility for the pursuit of institutional policy for arts, health and wellbeing.

4) We recommend that those responsible for NHS New Models of Care and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships ensure that arts and cultural organisations are involved in the delivery of health and wellbeing at regional and local level.

5) We recommend that Arts Council England supports arts and cultural organisations in making health and wellbeing outcomes integral to their work and identifies health and wellbeing as a priority in its 10-year strategy for 2020–2030.

6) We recommend that NHS England and the Social Prescribing Network support clinical commissioning groups, NHS provider trusts and local authorities to incorporate arts on prescription into their commissioning plans and to redesign care pathways where appropriate.

7) We recommend that Healthwatch, the Patients Association and other representative organisations, along with arts and cultural providers, work with patients and service users to advocate the health and wellbeing benefits of arts engagement to health and social care professionals and the wider public.

8) We recommend that the education of clinicians, public health specialists and other health and care professionals includes accredited modules on the evidence base and practical use of the arts for health and wellbeing outcomes. We also recommend that arts education institutions initiate undergraduate and postgraduate courses and professional development modules dedicated to the contribution of the arts to health and wellbeing.

9) We recommend that Research Councils UK and individual research councils consider an interdisciplinary, cross-council research funding initiative in the area of participatory arts, health and wellbeing, and that other research-funding bodies express willingness to contribute resources to advancement of the arts, health and wellbeing evidence base. We recommend that commissioners of large-scale, long-term health surveys include questions about the impacts of arts engagement on health and wellbeing.

10) We recommend that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence regularly examines evidence as to the efficacy of the arts in benefiting health, and, where the evidence justifies it, includes in its guidance the use of the arts in healthcare.[4]

Further material, including a short version of the July 2017 report, is available online.

The Arts Council England website contains news, blogs and case studies on the arts and well-being.

[1]     All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, July 2017, p4

[2]     All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry, November 2015

[3]     Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, p4

[4]     Ibid, p154-6

Commons Debate packs CDP-2017-0168

Authors: John Woodhouse; Sarah Pepin

Topics: Arts, Health services

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