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GPs urged by MPs to prescribe poetry and painting

GPs should be able to prescribe poetry workshops or painting lessons as part of arts-on-prescription schemes to improve patients’ health and wellbeing, according to an All-Party Parliamentary Group.

A new report from the group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing argues that the arts can help meet major challenges facing health and social care including ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health.

It points to an innovative Artlift arts-on-prescription scheme in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, where GPs refer patients with a wide range of conditions – from chronic pain to stroke to anxiety and depression – to take part in an eight-week course of two-hour sessions led a professional working in poetry, ceramics, drawing, mosaic or painting.

A cost-benefit analysis of Artlift from 2009 to 2012 showed that, after six months of working with an artist, people had 37% less demand for GP appointments and their need for hospital admission dropped by 27%.

Setting reductions in costs to the NHS against the cost of Artlift interventions, there was a net saving of £216 per patient, the report points out.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group recommends 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’.

It would also like to see that the education of clinicians includes accredited modules on the evidence base and practical use of the arts for health and wellbeing outcomes.

In the foreword to the report, Lord Howarth of Newport, co-chair for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, said: ‘The evidence we present shows how arts-based approaches can help people to stay well, recover faster, manage long-term conditions and experience a better quality of life.’

Readers' comments (23)

  • I cannot bear this misery for another 20 years, they're just making it up as they go along and we can do nothing about it!
    Young ones, it's not going to get better anytime soon, GP is doomed, there's no money and the best they can come up with is this steaming pile of faeces.

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  • Wtf 😂😂😂

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  • Many of these 'studies' neglect a control group and ignore the reversion to mean effect of high healthcare users, making all interventions look successful.

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  • Oh for crying out loud...

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  • Philip Larkins This be the verse,Your parents really fuxx you up,describes most of my work and most of the people in this country perfectly.

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  • Maverick

    Includes free colouring book....

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  • For once speachless, could have come up with a pithy, witty verse, but can't be arsed. Leave medical care to the unqualified noctors and poets, good luck

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  • I wonder if Dr Merrifield will be leading one of these classes? After all its a new scheme produced by organisations with acronyms, matches in with the RCGP colouring crayon scheme, and probably needs to be taken by someone young, and uncynical, who has a flexible portfolio career to lead on it ( with possibly some help from Ivan Bennet on the statistics of success) before launching on a successful career in medical politics. Ah these bright young things, there was me thinking that we actually went to medical school to deliver medical care to patients, its no wonder I'm grumpy, 10 sessions a week plus offering medical consultations to patients with medical problems, when what the public actually wanted was flowery poetry recitals, and a therapy session with Banksy. I wonder how long it is before the government has a scheme to train these artists to become doctors on a part time scheme, as there will of course be a natural overlap, as anyone can become a GP these days..... if only Oscar Wilde had been a GP........ but if he had have been....then he probably would have got a 5 star review on Pulse. mmmmh no must be positive in my reflective journal.... think of the benefits... I must embrace this.....I know I'll get my palliative care patents together to form the 'Dead poets Society' that will go down well......

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  • Actually, I was thinking, since our profession is full of grumpy , cynical middle-aged men and anyone can become a doctor, how about we get in Jeremy Clarkson? Instead of the 'Grand Tour' we could call it 'Grand Rounds'?......... on that bombshell........

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  • GPs Should be able to prescribe money to patients. As more money will give patients more choice and independence in choosing to eat better and engage in activities of their liking and this will certainly improve their health and overall wellbeing. Let's get FP10 chequebooks to issue cheques to patients. Bring it on. My patients will love it.

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